I grew up with the term “patience is a virtue.”
I don’t know where I got it or who told it to me growing up but I remember having this conversation with myself many times. At times when I was offended by someone, or someone made a mistake that I knew I needed to forgive I would tell myself in my head, “Patience is a virtue.”
However, in my pride, whenever I was offended by my self or I made a mistake there was no such conversation in my head. My self-talk went something like this, “What is wrong with me? I am unforgivable. I can’t believe I did that. If anyone knew the truth about me, they would hate me. I hate myself.” There were many more sayings that I repeated in my head over and over and over again, but you get the idea. I was usually willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, but not myself. What self-defeating behavior this was!
Patience is a virtue and must be applied in generous doses. To others and to self. Here are the reasons why:
- Patience takes you out of a place of pride and into a place of humility. When we allow ourselves to indulge in negative self-talk, we are in effect denying the atonement. We are telling God that he can not help us. Patience on the other hand, recognizes the need for help from a source greater than ourselves. It puts us in a place to get on our knees and ask for help with overcoming weakness.
- Patience provides a safe environment. When a good friend comes to us and confides in us something terrible they have done, do we assault them with an arsenal of verbal weapons and tell them how horrible they are? Hopefully not, or they probably won’t confide in us much. No, we wrap our arms around them and give them our love, support, and forgiveness. We can not escape ourselves or our own thoughts, so we must learn to figuratively wrap our arms around ourselves.
- Patience is a catalyst for change. Without love for others and ourselves, there is no catalyst for true change. Yes, we can guilt ourselves and others into changing temporarily, but it doesn’t last. Lasting change and repentance stems from love and acceptance, not guilt. Can you think of the people in your life who have inspired you the most? Were they mean and hateful? Or were they loving and kind?
- Patience is a trait of the Savior. What did Christ do when the adulterous woman was brought before him to be judged? He did not condemn her. He showed compassion. He forgave her. I believe the words, “Go, and sin no more” were more than just a commandment. These words were a vote of confidence in her that she had the ability to change. He didn’t say, “If you don’t change by tomorrow, I will not love you anymore.” Often times, when we make goals for ourselves, and then in weakness slip up or have a set back, we show no mercy. We condemn ourselves to death. The Savior does not do this, instead he says,
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
It can not be repeated too many times. Patience is a virtue. And it can make the difference between being stuck in our old patterns, and repentance. I choose the latter, who is with me?