Patience is a virtue. Have you heard that saying? Patience is hard. Sometimes, I do not like it at all. I get frustrated, I want something now and I get tired of waiting. Do you ever feel like that too? I have written a few other posts on patience, but today I’d like to look more closely at why patience is a virtue and why it’s worthwhile to cultivate.
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What is the definition of Patience?
When I want to understand anything better, the first thing that I do is look at the definition. Patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” As usual, it’s a short definition that says a mouthful. To me, patience is largely about enduring something and controlling your emotions.
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What exactly is a virtue anyway?
Now that we have looked at the definition of patience, let’s look at the definition of virtue. A virtue is a “behavior showing high moral standards.” Moral means “concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.” So, if we put those together, a virtue is behaving in a way that shows the goodness of our character.
Who says patience is a virtue?
There is actually some dispute as to who first said that patience is a virtue. It seems to have gotten muddled in history. Some credit it to Cato the Elder who wrote a Latin text around 200-300 AD with a similar saying. Others credit it to a poem called “Piers Plowman” written around 1360 by William Langsford. Still others argue that the “patience is a virtue” saying originates with Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Whatever the origin, the idea is clearly quite old.
What does it mean when you say patience is a virtue?
Patience is often time contrary to our first instincts. (Which makes it annoying at times.) Many times in my own life I want something to change now or I don’t want to wait for something that I know that I have to. Sometimes we plant seeds in our lives that take time to come to maturity.“The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit” Click To Tweet
To share with you an example from my personal life: I am currently taking care of an elderly relative. If you have ever served in the role of caretaker before, you know that it requires a lot of patience. (Which explains all my patience posts.)
I wish sometimes that the road before me was more clear. I do not know what the future holds for me.
Setting 5-year plans is one of the recommended things that you do for goal setting. I have no idea what my life will look like in 5 years. Will I still be taking care of my elderly relative? Will she have passed away and I’m off to doing other things? If so then what?
I get impatient with not knowing sometimes. That’s when I have to remind myself that patience is a virtue. I know what I should be doing now, which is taking care of her. I try to be content with that and trust that the Lord will take care of the future.
Why is patience a fruit of the spirit?
In Galatians 5: 22-23 it says “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (KJV) The longsuffering part is often described as patience.
Once I was going to my grandmother-in-laws house to get some pears that were ripe. As I approached her house, I realized that I had no idea what a pear tree actually looked like. How would I know the right tree?
When I pulled into her driveway, I had little doubt in my mind which of her trees were the pear trees. They were the ones that were so heavily loaded down with fruit that some of the limbs had actually cracked.
Similarly to natural fruit, the Spirit of God that dwells in all of his children produces similar fruit. Patience, or longsuffering, as it says in the Galatians passage is one of those fruits. When we see these characteristics in a person, we know that they have the Spirit of God dwelling in them.
What the Bible says about waiting?
Waiting is hard. Sometimes you have to wait, but doing it gracefully takes some self-control. However, in Psalms 40:1 it says “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” There’s that patience part again.
Friends, God’s time is not always our time. Sometimes I am guilty of wanting things to happen in my time. I want things to hurry up and happen, or I want a certain trial in my life to end. Sometimes our trials shape us.
We are refined as silver and gold. (Zechariah 13:9). Do you know what that involves? Going through the fire. One of the reasons that patience is a virtue is that it involves going through suffering at times, without getting angry or upset. It involves trusting God that things will happen not in your time, but in His.
How can patience help you in life?
There are many benefits of being patient. Among those benefits, are helping you to focus on your long term goals, becoming a people magnet, helping you develop a skill set and a reputation for persistence. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that patience is a virtue – it’s not easy to do, but has huge long term benefits. Patience can also help you in life because those who practice patience (say that 3 times fast!) experience better mental and physical health as well as build a good reputation.
Patience is a Virtue that Can Help Build Relationships
Yes, among the benefits of being patient is building relationships with others. This can be a romantic relationship, work relationships, friendships, and relationships with family as well. Patience is a way to practice kindness. We could all use a little more kindness, couldn’t we? Here’s how patience can look with some of those relationships.
Practicing Patience With Family:
This morning, my oldest son did NOT want to go to school, which was very uncharacteristic of him. He went off about it for a little bit, but as I took a step back, I realized that 1) he was pale 2) this outburst was very uncharacteristic of him and he seemed to be upset about something else and 3) he felt a bit warm as I put my arms around him in a hug. He was sick. My sweet boy that had gone above and beyond to take care of me over the weekend while I was sick was exhibiting the same symptoms as I had. If I did not have patience with him in the morning, I would not have realized that and sent him on to school.
Practicing Patience In a Romantic Relationship:
I can be about as loveable as a porcupine sometimes. The person that I am most prickly with is usually my husband. I wrote about it in more detail in a post titled “Thank you for Choosing Me.” He has a remarkable amount of patience with me, and I’m so thankful for it. If I forget to put his phone charger in his car before work (which I do about once a week), he always says “that’s ok. I know you had other things on your mind.” He does not hold me to an impossible standard. He allows me to be human and sees me as a whole person, flaws in all.
See Also: 6 Keys to Happiness in Marriage
Practicing Patience in a Friendship
I have a very good friend whom I have been friends with for over 20 years. One of the reasons that we have been friends so long is that she has practiced patience with me for a long time. You see, while I can write out a blog post once a week, I am terrible at remembering to call.
I have gotten better in the past few years, but I think there was probably a year-long (or more) period or so when I was in college that I did not call her once. Nope. She called me. Once a week or so, she would give me a call, and we would chat like old times.
I’m sure that she must have gotten irritated with me over it, but she never gave up on me. That, my friends, took a LOT of patience. I cannot express how grateful I am for that because her friendship over these past 20+ years has been one of the great constants of my life.
Go call or text your best friend after you get done reading this post – just to tell them hi.
How can I be calm and patient?
Being calm and patient can be hard. However, there is good news – patience is a skill. With some practice, you can learn how to master patience. Developing patience is much like developing a pause button between a stimulus (what makes you irritated) and your reaction (Ahhhhh!). You can try the following techniques to calm down in the heat of the moment:
- Take a few deep breaths
- Walk away for a little bit
- Consciously relax
- Remember to put things in perspective – will this matter next week?
- Think before you speak
What Patience is a virtue does NOT mean
Just because patience is a virtue does not mean that you passively sit around and wait on good things to come to you. Good things do take time, but they also take effort, persistence and a great deal of hard work. There is a difference between patience and procrastination. If you have a goal, then you will have to take action in order to achieve that goal, even if it involves getting outside your comfort zone.
The Last Thing You Need to Know About Why Patience Is a Virtue
Virtues are things that are often contrary to our human nature, but that give us long term gains. Thus, the saying that “patience is a virtue” fits that description pretty well. There are many benefits to being patient.
Patience is a skill that you have to learn and practice. It helps build our reputations for persistence and improves our relationships with all those around us. Sometimes we don’t have all the answers that we want in life when we want them. That’s ok because we learn and grow through challenges along the way.
What are you currently struggling with having the patience for? Leave me a comment below!