In the world today, patience is a precious commodity that few people can obtain. It seems that we are always in a hurry and anyone who isn't is an annoyance that should be eradicated from the Earth as soon as possible. Can't they understand that we have better things to do? If we get irritated and angry then they deserve it for wasting precious time.
Impatience can make us think this way. It can be safe to assume that at least once in our lives we are told to "Put on our armor of patience". For some people, the armor fits and they are calm, collected, and even happy during the most trying of times. But so many of us don't even know how to get the armor on, much less know what makes it so powerful. In my experiences, I have found that there are three character virtues that make up this "armor of patience".
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Whether you're a child or an adult, imagination is important. It contributes to creativity, resourcefulness, and an interesting personality. It is also very useful in times when impatience is on the rise. For instance, if a person is driving very slowly in front of you, use your imagination and pretend that the driver is lost and trying to find their way somewhere. I know when I imagine this, I think of how slow I drive when I don't know where I am and I become a lot more patient towards the car in front of me.
When you're waiting for food at a restaurant, instead of getting impatient and angry with the waitress, pretend that she is the only one working in the entire place, seating guests, taking and cooking every order, and cleaning up afterward. Is this a very optimistic and slightly naive way of thinking? Yes. It's only one material for the armor of patience.
Possibly one of the biggest factors that contribute to impatience is selfishness. Think about it. When you're in line and getting angry at everyone in front of you, it's because (in that moment, at least) you believe that you deserve to be in front more than anyone else. I know I've had those thoughts. There have been times when I thought the world revolved around my agenda. But it doesn't. It's selfish and stupid to believe that the world revolves around our agendas and then get angry when the rest of the population doesn't agree. Adopting a humbler attitude can help this. If we believe that everyone's needs in line are equally or more important that our own, we won't be so impatient and worked up about waiting.
Think about servants. They do nothing but wait on others. They put others needs before their own. They live their lives lower than everyone else. When you have a servant's heart you see that the so many people in the world have needs just like you do and sometimes they are more important. Instead of getting frustrated with them, you can try to help them. If they don't want help,then you can still be civil, understanding, or ready to help. If you're in a hurry, going out the door, which is the more humbling thing to do? Let the door slam on the other person in a hurry behind you? Or be a servant to that person by making sure the door is held open and they can get through.
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If imagination and humility are the materials for the armor of patience, then compassion is the stitching that holds it all together. You have to recognize not only that people running late to the meeting, standing in front of you in line, or driving slowly on the highway are STILL people that deserve your civility, respect, and understanding. No one deserves to be hated,even for a few minutes, because they were in your way or made you late.
Is it hard to remember that in every car, there is a human being just like you? Absolutely. But do you lose your humanity because of that? No. Is it fair that some people seem to purposely be getting on our nerves or making us late? No. It's not fair, especially if those people ARE doing it on purpose. Kill those people with kindness. And make the kill by wearing the armor of patience. Okay, I'm through with the metaphors.