Friday, March 21, 2014

Patience and Purpose

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

St. Paul Galatians 5:22-23

When St. Paul lists the virtues above, he does not list them separately; he lists them as one.  They are all connected, all part of each other.  The virtues come as a single virtue, as a unit, as part of the whole package.  They are each facets of the same diamond.  The facet that interests me the most now is patience.  Love is patience.  I am not always a patient man and therefore I am not always a loving man.  When I am impatient I also lack peace.  Obviously, I lack all of the virtues, but I notice what the lack of patience creates in me and I want to create a better way.
When I am impatient, I am not fun to be around.  My impatience most often manifests itself when I am under a time constraint.  It comes out when I am dealing with too many things at the same time.  Sometimes people who seem excessively needy are difficult for me.  I don’t do well with institutionalized rules that seem to make no sense.   I’m not proud of this characteristic, but until today I never equated it with a lack of love, or a lack of any of the other virtues.  For me, it was a singular weakness that I had not examined very closely.
Then my Muse asked to write about it.  More specifically I encountered a situation that made me feel impatient.   This wasn’t just the kind of impatience one feels at a traffic light.  It was larger and more insidious.  It was the impatience of wanting something that I have to wait for.   I want my house on the beach.  I want to write professionally.  I want people to buy my book.  I want all my hard work to pay off.   I want my financial life in order.  Sometimes all of it seems very far away.
Here’s what my impatient self wants to do:
·      Complain.
·      Think and speak negatively.
·      Be afraid.
·      Give up.

I rarely give up, but I have done more than my share of complaining and being negative and afraid.  I’ve fought these for a long time.  Impatience has even caused me to be rude and I’ve had to apologize more often than I’d like to admit.  Because I lack patience, I also lack peace.  When I lack peace, I struggle with fear.  Fear is one of my greatest enemies and I’ve been its grip too often and for too long.  What I may need to conquer my fears then is not courage, but patience. 
“I will wait for you.”
That is what I need to say when I feel fearful.  I will wait for my house on the beach, for my writing to be noticed, for my goals to be realized.  If I am patient, then I can withstand fear because I know that delays are only that – delays.  They are not the end if I don’t allow them to be.  I have made up my mind on this.  There is no Plan B.
Patience is another form of determination.  I am determined to get my house on the beach no matter what.  If I have to wait, so be it, but I’m going to reach my goals eventually. 
Patience is also a form of persistence, which is a form of faith.  In The Strangest Secret, Earl Nightingale says, “If you didn’t have faith, you would never persist.” 
So I persist.  I write every day.  I keep my eyes on my goals and I do something every single day that moves me closer. 
All these years I’ve been doing all I can to fight my fears.  Perhaps the fight has been so persistent because I took the wrong approach.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have been fighting, but waiting.  Perhaps my attitude should have been one of waiting rather than warring. 
So here’s what I know.  I will wait patiently for my house on the beach and for all my other goals.  If something looks like a delay or even a denial, I will keep waiting patiently.  I will keep writing.  Even if my Muse goes far away, and I don’t know what to write, I’ll Get Started and I’ll Keep Going.  I will wait patiently for her to return to me.  I will trust her to return and not worry.  I don’t need to worry; I only need to be patient.  While I am patient I will be working.  Patience and progress will lead me to my Purpose.  Patience overcomes fear, because it doesn’t consider an unwanted outcome as something permanent or as the end of the story.  My story isn’t over until my life is and maybe not even then.  I will find out as long as I remain patient.