What Patience Is, and What It's Not

September 14, 2010   •  Posted in: 

The world does not see patience as a position of strength but rather as a position of weakness, of wanting, of lack. Powerful people don’t have to wait; powerless people do. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of patience. Patience allows you to take back control over a capricious and unstable world and plant that control firmly within yourself.

Patience does not give you the power over circumstances; patience allows you to control yourself in the midst of circumstances.

Because of the misconceptions about patience I’ve run into over the years as I’ve helped people develop the capacity for patience in their lives, I’d like to go over some of the realities and truths of patience.

Patience is not apathy. Apathy is a lack of interest or concern. Being patient does not mean disengaging or disconnecting from your feelings or emotions. Being patient means accepting both how you feel about a given situation and what you can realistically do about it.

Patience is not surrender. A decision to exercise patience is not the equivalent of waving the white flag. When you surrender, you place yourself under the control of the situati0n and remove yourself from the equation. Patience is not surrendering your power to the circumstance; patience is redeploying that power back to you.

Patience is not static. Thre is a misconception that patience, or the act of waiting, is just sitting there, doing nothing. In this, patience is a little like sleep. When we’re sleeping, it can appear that we’re doing nothing — we’re just sleeping. Sleep, however, is a highly dynamic process where the body is actively engaged in repairing itself. The mind is filtering and collating and processing the events of the day. In the same way patience is an active time of remembering, reexamining, and recommitting to those things you know are true. Patience, like sleep, is the act of preparing for the new day to come.

Patience is not impossible. One of the biggest lies of your excessity is that you must give in to it right now. This lie says you do not have the capacity to be patient and to wait — and it would be foolish to even try.

Patience is optimistic expectation. The engine of patience is hope. Romans 5:3-4 is a wonderful passage that shows the connection between patience and hope: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Patience is based on the end, not the beginning. Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” You won’t know that the end of the matter is better than the beginning if you’re not patient enough to get there.

Patience is based on the long view. The view of patience is not a few steps in front of us. The view of patience is out over the horizon, around the bend, through the hills and valleys of life. Patience is not thwarted by the immediate; it is sustained by the eventual. When you are assured of the eventual, you can patiently endure the immediate.

Patience is a wise response to life. This life is offensive in so many ways. People can be mean, cruel, and hurtful. Circumstances can be sudden, unpredictable, and damaging. We may feel as if we live under siege from something or someone most of the time. But patience provides a calm counterbalance to the frenzy of such a threat level. Proverbs 19:11 says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

Patience is a calm response to life. Patience is seen as a way to diffuse tension and calm an emotional storm. Proverbs 14:29 says, “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.” And as Proverbs 15:18 says, “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” Excessities are often quick to strike within tense situations. They promise relief and reward in the midst of such emotional storms. Patience has a way of de-escalating the situation and reducing the pull of escape into an excessity.

Source: Chapter 8, “God Provides Patience” in Gotta Have It! by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, Inc

Dr. Gregory Jantz

Pioneering Whole Person Care over thirty years ago, Dr. Gregory Jantz is an innovator in the treatment of mental health. He is a best-selling author of over 45 books, and a go-to media authority on behavioral health afflictions, appearing on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN. Dr. Jantz leads a team of world-class, licensed, and...

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