October 13, 2008 Peter

Love as a Way of Life Part 3 “Patience”

PATIENCE: Accepting the Imperfections of OthersGary Chapman, “Love as a way of life”

“Patience is a virtue” I would hear, “Patience is a virtue”

“Well,” I thought to myself, “I’ll show virtue a thing or two about patience!”

Like most things, negative or abusive behavior towards another says more about the one who is angry more than it says anything about the other person. Think of a time when you thought someone was driving a little too slow for you and as a result thought, made a gesture, or yelled your dissatisfaction or Mr. or Ms. Slow-mo.

Question: Were you upset at the fact that Slow-mo was moving too slow or was it because you were upset at yourself for waiting so late to leave for your destination?

Patience is an attitude, a choice to accept or “allow someone to be imperfect.” Many times we are not impatient with others as much as we are impatient with ourselves. We blame others for being too slow while the day before we cutoff another driver while merging into traffic and said, “You’re just going to have to wait and besides you’re going a little too fast, Mr.” We have to remember that everyone is in some form of process. Rarely is there anyone who will say that they have no place to grow personally. Everyone is in a different place. Some people are more ahead than others and we need the wisdom to know when to have a little grace with our interactions with them. Chapman makes a very good point when he writes:

“In the heat of everyday interactions, we can forget that each of us has different emotions, ideas, desires, and perceptions and that each of us has the ability to make choices. Being patient means loving a person even when he makes choices with which we disagree.”

Being patient requires the understanding that people will make bad decisions because:

  • People have a limited purview and can’t possibly “see” everything as it really is. Read, “Just like there are blind spots in cars so are there “blind spots” in life.
  • People can be passive as a result of a defiant attitude, pride, and/or even arrogance.
  • People may not have had good mentors to help them make appropriate decisions in life. As a result, they are suffering the consequences and those consequences are now affecting others.

Far to often we expect people to be the “better version of who we want to be.” As a result, we are really castigating ourselves for not being that way. We must first look at our own faults before we address the faults of others. Remember the universal truth that Jesus said:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? – Matthew 7:3,4

The universal truth that Jesus was speaking about was evaluating yourself about your motives and your personal faults before addressing the faults of others. When I get angry because people are not doing what I expect them to do, I have to remember that more times than not, I was the one who is suffering the consequences of my own actions.

We can be patient in at least 3 ways:

  • Patience in Listening
  • Patience in Speaking
  • Patience in Action

For time sake I want to focus on “Patience in Listening.”  Steven Covey in his book, “7 Habits of successful people” said to, “Seek First To Understand, Then be Understood.” when we are speaking with those that we may not agree. Listen to other lets them know that you want to understand what they are saying because they have value to you and that someone is taking time for them. This is paramount when speaking to those that we love.

Having patience to seek to understand a person’s point of view preserves the relationship. Sometimes our actions and words do not clearly represent what we really think and as a result, we need ask probing and open-ended questions. Questions like:

  • “What did you mean when you said or did . . . ?”
  • “Is this something important to you . . . why is it important to you.”
  • “How can I best help you . . . ?”

Everyone has “needs” and if you are a little patient you can resolve contention, learn more about your loved one, and in turn they will learn that you can be trusted even when they make mistakes.

**Is there anything that you would like to add to the topic of PATIENCE?**

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