I have noticed that I struggle with patience, which is not surprising given the cultural context in which I was raised. In our country we are bombarded with messages exhorting us to ‘get it today!’ and ‘don’t wait!’…which prompts a sense of urgency over just about everything.
This is especially true with any type of suffering or change. If we don’t feel well we want to get better, and have a plethora of medications to rid us of our suffering. If we see something we don’t like about a situation, we want to make it better right now so that we don’t have to deal with discomfort. When we notice something we would like to change about ourselves (say our weight or a habit), we become agitated that we can’t ‘fix’ it overnight.
If you look around you can see this everywhere…quick money, weight loss, education, etc, etc.
Increasingly, however, I have seen that patience is not only a virtue but a necessity for growth. It is only when we are present with the process of change that we truly learn. Overnight change robs us of the ability to observe the natural unfolding of things. When we change ourselves or a situation too quickly we cannot appreciate the transition from one state to another.
Instant cures lessen our appreciation of good health and taking care of ourselves. Rapid removal of suffering lessens our appreciation of happiness. Overnight, easy change keeps us from savoring our own growth.
It is the experience of change, the patience with our own growth, that teaches us what it means to be fully human. We learn by becoming aware of how we are as we grow. And this requires faith, patience and a willingness to allow things to unfold.