Sunday, September 6, 2009

Patience is Happiness

Patience is a virtue

I am quite sure that many of us have at some point been impatiently waiting for something, and then been informed that we should be more patient, that "patience is a virtue." Patience is a virtue, of course. This is particularly meaningful to me because I know that virtues are good, and that good things are generally awesome. Good things are not usually just barely scraping by as good. When properly understood, good things are obviously seen to be the most useful, most enjoyable, and most exciting things out there!

This is especially true when it comes to the virtue of patience. Now, many times, the idea of patience doesn't sound very awesome. Patience brings to mind lines, traffic jams, and painful people situations that we are somehow supposed to get through, gritting our teeth, without complaining. All of which does not sound at all enjoyable or amazing. The way I see patience, in general, gritting teeth is a lot more like impatience!

Let me share a hypothetical example:
Jenny and Jane are both standing in a long line at the post office, and Jane is ahead of Jenny in line. Now Jane is standing there, very aware of the seconds ticking by, trying very hard to be patient. She keeps trying to be patient. She continues to try to be patient about this. She is having a hard time not feeling just a bit impatient, considering that the post office employee is moving particularly slow today. Jenny ponders whether she will somehow become a more patient person because of having to practice all this patience in this trying situation. Finally, it's her turn, and she is happy.

Jane is texting her friends while standing in line. She's texting at least three of them: two girl friends and one guy friend. She is enjoying herself immensely and inadvertantly laughs at one of the messages, causing other people to stare at her breifly. Jane doesn't really mind at all, and texts back an equally amusing message. Suddenly she realizes that she has to stop texting because it's her turn at the counter, and so she puts away her phone and switches her attention to the post office situation.

Which person would you say was more impatient? I would say Jenny. But how can that be, since she was trying so hard to be patient? Well, I'll explain my thesis in a moment, first I will give my own personal definition of patience:

"Patience is happiness NOW. Impatience is putting off happiness until I get what I think I want."

Read that again. It always sounds funny and confusing the first time. Patience is having happiness right now. Patient people are generally pretty happy. Things just don't get to them the same way. They see rush hour traffic as an excuse to relax and listen to their music before getting home to more work. They enjoy the motions of doing dishes - it really isn't that stressful, and actually can be quite therapudic! They focus on what they have, not what they don't have, and that focus allows them to be happy, because they always have great things! What do I mean by that? I mean that as christian, we have everything we need! God is taking care of us. We also have His love and presence, which means that if we don't have a cell phone and we are standing in a line, we can chat with God!

Focus on the future of the future is pretty awesome too. Knowing that no matter how badly this life goes, we have heaven, we can always switch our focus from what we think we want to what we already are promised. To me, it never gets tiring to think about heaven. I am definitely going to ask God to set up an awesome paintball field and play paintball with me and some friends. Of course, I'd also like it if He agrees to have some handicaps so that the game lasts longer than 2 seconds. Think of a cat, patiently stalking the hideout of some mice. The cat is unaware that he is being patient; he's way too busy thinking about those little mice...

An impatient person, on the other hand, is generally unhappy. That kind of person equates what they want, or the future, with happiness, and refuses to feel happiness until they reach that goal or that point in time. What is the point of that? There is no point! I think the only reason they do that is because they do not know a better way. Either that or perhaps they are too lazy to go to the effort of finding happiness now. It isn't always the most natural thing to do, you know. That reminds me, I should definitely mention that when I say that patience is happiness, I do not only mean happiness in the brittle and insubstantial sense of the word. When a situation is very trying, one generally needs the type of happiness that is only found in God - a happiness that is better described as a deep-seated peace and piles of true and contagious joy.


I realize that adventure is slightly off-topic, but at the same time, it is somewhat related. What is a true, exciting adventure? Doesn't it usually involve some sort of danger? Doesn't it usually contain some sort of trying circumstance? Doesn't it sometimes involve fear or pain? Peaceful circumstances that are completely under our control, have no danger, and require no toughness generally don't count as adventures. At all. Adventures are pretty awesome: they are exciting to live through, and they make a great story later on! One time, me and mom defined adventure, unofficially, as this:

"An adventure is when you have an absolutely miserable day, but when you get home, it makes a great story!"

Now notice very carefully that I did not say that all miserable days are an adventure. Some are just miserable. It is the miserable days that later make great stories that are true adventures. An adventure usually also requires skill, determination, or intelligence - it tests just what you are made of. Most people don't really enjoy the test at the time, but later love to look back and see that they were tested and had what it took to survive! Those are the miserable days that make great stories. Those are the adventures of a lifetime! When I get into tough situations that require loads of patience, I think of them as adventures. I think of being in the future and looking back at them as adventures. We can all think ahead to being in heaven and looking back at the adventures of today. Speaking of which, I wonder if, while in heaven, we'll be able to watch the alternate endings... hmm...


Anyway, patience and perseverance are virtues.
Therefore, I exhort you all to go out! Live life! Enjoy yourself! Be present in the moment! Be truly and deeply happy! Pursue joy and peace! Go and have the adventure of a lifetime!

Don't forget to thank God for the adventures, the troubles, the patience-producing situations. Then, if you are having a hard time not complaining, then pray and ask God to infuse your life with an extra measure of grace, patience, joy, and peace. He's the one who makes life awesome, and He loves to help those who ask for it! God Bless!

No comments:

Post a Comment