Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Patience: The Virtue No One Has

TBM Topic 29: Bear Wrongs Patiently

"Patience: The Virtue No One Has" by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We're here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

I have yet to meet a person who admits to being naturally patient. I'm not. I bet you're not either. So first there's that: dealing with your own inability to be patient with your own life.

I get it! Places to go, people to see. You don't want to wait: "Waiting for the fish to bite/ or waiting for the wind to fly a kite/ or waiting around for Friday night/ or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake/ or a pot to boil, or a Better Break/ or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants/ or a wig with curls, or Another Chance" (Dr. Seuss).

But perhaps you're beyond that. Maybe you're finding patiently waiting and trusting in the Lord (cue the Psalms). Then, God steps it up: you have to bear other people's wrongs patiently.

He has a funny habit of doing that, doesn't he? Trying to make you more patient? Sanctification of self, as they say.

What usually happens, though: an unkind word (or two), uncharitable thoughts, irritability for an extended period of time, a fight between loved ones, or, more often, viciousness towards a stranger.

But that guy was a total jerk! He took my spot/ coffee/ bumped into me/ was super rude. You're telling me I'm not right to be angry.

Sure. You can be angry. But of all the things to be mad about in the world, does this problem at hand really matter enough to fight back? Or would your kindness help the situation? Would your patience bring light to the matter at hand? Would this problem, too, pass because you chose patience over getting into a pickle?

Blessed Mother Teresa, saint-to-be, said,

 “People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

"Told you I'd be back - 3 days, people!"
As we enter Holy Week, remember the ultimate example of bearing wrongs patiently: God. We mess up every day and have to keep coming back to apologize. But he never gets tired of it: he delights in our remorse, because we apologize not out of fear of punishment, but because we love God so much that we are moved to make right when we are in the wrong.

Jesus told us that we have to forgive one person for the same offense 70 time 7 times. And if they offend you in a different way? Another 490 times. And another? 490. That's bearing wrongs patiently. That's imitating Christ. Is it easy? No. But more importantly- is it possible? Yes!

As one impatient person to another, let us not grow lax in our Lenten goals of self-growth. These 40 days are only the beginning of new life in Christ. If you did not add "bear wrongs patiently" to your laundry list, then perhaps you should add it now. It's never too late to be the person God made us to be.

"A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention." --Proverbs 15:18

How are you learning to bear wrongs patiently?


  1. For years, I prayed for patience. And God answered by giving me many, many more opportunities in which to grow in patience. When it is with things in my own life I am waiting for, I also find I need to grow in trust of His absolute love for me. When it is with others, I need to grow in my own sense of compassion. Patience is really the indicator that there are many other places in which to grow...

  2. The fact that I forgot this was a spiritual work of mercy is probably a clue that I need to work on it. Lately I've been getting really angry when I feel people treat me unjustly, and it's making me miserable.