Many of us have probably heard the old proverb that “patience is a virtue.” Almost every religion believes this. But there are always two sides to the story.
Parents are often told to be patient with their children. Children will learn at their own pace, in good time, how to read, write, tie their shoes, be polite, be respectful and how to treat the opposite sex. Parents must be patient in teaching these things to their children as every child learns differently.
Elders are often told to be patient with the younger generation. Youth today have grown up with new types of technology that has changed them in many ways. What was once important may not be so important to today’s youth. Elders must be patient in trying to communicate with youth who are easily distracted, and always in a hurry.
These are just two different scenarios where patience is encouraged. But what we don’t think about is that there are always two (sometimes more) sides to every story. A parent may think they are showing patience with a child whom they’ve repeated the same thing to 15 times, but the child may think that the parent isn’t being patient because he or she is only thinking about the present issue.
On the other side of patience is when it’s taken to an extreme, and completely out of perspective. For example when a woman is abused by a man and continually forgives him, continually puts up with that type of behavior time and time again, thinking that she is trying to be patient with that man. She thinks she is patiently waiting for him to work out his issues and change his ways. In a case like this, those actions are not to the benefit of all involved. Her patience is a good thing, but what she is being patient about isn’t. Wishful thinking won’t change his actions; he must desire to change.
Perhaps an easier way to look at this is to think of patience as having two forms, a negative and positive.
To be patient and wait to be happy until you get a good job, or until you finish college, or until ___ (you fill in the blank) can just put your life on hold. This can prevent you from enjoying the little and happy moments life brings your way in the meantime.
Yes, patience is a virtue, but I ask you to take a good look at what you are being patient about and decide if it’s really what is beneficial to all involved, and if it’s really what the bible meant by patience.
Colossians 3:12 says: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
I believe the scripture above is talking about positive patience, the kind of patience that bears all things without complaint, irritation, or loss of temper.
Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience…”
This scripture reveals that true patience is a result of wisdom. We need to think about what it is we are putting our time and effort toward. The dictionary defines patience as quiet, steady perseverance. The word, steady, automatically lets us know that sometimes it may take awhile to achieve a desired result, which is why we need to rely on our wisdom and really be sure that the result we are patiently waiting for or patiently pursuing is worth it, is realistic, and is true patience.
We can be patient with our children, our elders, the younger generation and so on. We can even be patient with an abuser, but what I think we need to understand is that, in an extreme situation like abuse, patience takes on the form of persevering to get that person help.
It may be necessary to remove the abused from the situation before victims lose their own temper and abuse, as well. Such a situation has an effect on everyone in the family, and a ripple effect on friends and others around.
God never intended people to be treated like doormats. For example, Proverbs 19:19 says, “A hot tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.” Then again this type of issue is mentioned in Proverbs 22:24, “Do not make friends with a hot tempered man, do not associate with one who is easily angered.” Anger can be contagious.
If you are currently trying to be patient about something, or with someone, I applaud your efforts. I pray you are successful, and I ask that you not take patience out of perspective. It doesn’t do anyone any good if you simply put up with bad behavior, rather stand up for godly behavior by not enabling others to continue on a wrong path. Putting up with the bad encourages the bad to continue, standing up for good encourages good to continue.
Tori Vigil is an author, inspirational speaker and reporter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.