Hope plays a lot into my personal narrative. It’s not until I really grasped hope that I think I was finally able to start to begin to understand patience.
Now, don’t get me wrong and think I’m trying crown myself the King Of Patience just yet. I’m a very long way from any such title. But I am closer to truly enacting that trait than I was a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago.
For me, hope and patience go hand in hand because I don’t view patience as anxiously waiting for what’s to come next. I think many people view patience like they are a race horse in the starting gate. I think this because it’s the way I used to view it. They are pawing, pressing against the gate, and fidgeting around waiting for that gate to open so they can do what they are trained to do, move forward as fast as they can. I think when we do that too frequently we are always living for tomorrow and missing out on today. If I’m like a jittery horse in the starting gate that simply wants the gate to open so I can go then I’m not living in the moment and taking in all the joys of the day that’s around me.
I’ve started to hold to a different definition of patience: accepting and making the most of today with the hope that if I treat others the way I hope to be treated, I invest my heart and soul into the things I do, and I keep appropriate boundaries in my personal and work relationships then life will move forward one step at a time. Life is only going to move forward one step, one day, one period at a time anyway so why not take it in while it does.
It’s as much about accepting that where I am is a consequence of where I have been and how I have responded in those situations. Remember, consequence isn’t overtly negative. Consequence just means that it is the result of my actions; good, bad, or neutral. So the future will be a consequence of the choices I’m making now. I can’t speed up the future simply by anxiously awaiting it. If anyone remembers what the Christmas holidays felt like as a young child you can attest that anxiously awaiting what’s coming almost slows down time instead of speeds it up!
All of this is wrapped in hope because I have a hope for what my future looks like. That hope is drawn largely from my faith. It’s less a wish and more a certainty that I am loved and forgiven of disobedience and straying. That means that I’m never trying to make up ground on a constantly moving target of something at the end of my life. It allows me to live much more in the now, free from the anxiety of trying to measure up and be good enough.
Patience is less about restraining ourselves from the excitement of moving forward and more about realizing that what we do today shapes what happens tomorrow. This isn’t always a hard and fast rule; certainly there will be things in our lives that are out of our control and are beyond the consequences of our actions. However, by definition there isn’t much you can do about those anyway so the anxiety of those moments should be turned into caution rather than a a fear of a certainty.
So don’t go out today and wish for the day to be over and miss an entire day of your life “being patient” for tomorrow. Go out, enjoy the sun, be diligent at work, smile at the person checking you out at the grocery store, let the mom with 3 kids walk in front of you at the cross walk, watch a movie with your kids, take your dog for a walk, and know that tomorrow will still come at 12:00 am just like it does every day and tomorrow will be made by the choices you make today.