Conquering patience. That is the description of the ancient Romans as empire builders. Never conceding defeat, even in defeat, the ancient Romans patiently waited for their opportunity to become masters of their world. By the year 140, this watchful and enduring patience grew an empire encompassing 1.7 million square miles, while spanning Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Patience is a virtue, particularly in a world that wants everything instantly. Today, waiting 30 seconds for the microwave to cook a meal seems an eternity. Similarly, our impatience causes us to amass instant credit to own everything now or consume bottles of diet pills for looking good now. We want all of it now instead of developing a conquering patience that will actually provide better results in the long run. We want instant credit, yet do not consider that at 23% interest it will take us 30 years to pay off debts. We want to look good instantly, yet do not consider all the medical facts that overwhelmingly show that exercise and diet every day changes us for a lifetime. Patience now takes a good deal of energy, commitment, focus and delayed gratification in order to reap the best dividends in the future. And not only the best future but a future that is freer. The German proverb sums it up well, “Patience is a bitter plant, but it has sweet fruit.”
Patience is a persisting spirit, one geared toward achieving long term goals or dreams. The patient person knows they will reap lasting rewards and successes from their efforts if they can stay focused through the disappointments or impatience of current situations or circumstances. Patience and delaying gratification now allows us to taste ‘sweet fruit’ in the future. Patience additionally breeds personal growth and wisdom as we work through the trials that come our way. Our conquering patience also produces hope. This hope is grounded in our belief that we will overcome the present trials or setbacks to achieve enduring benefits.
As I write this, I have been enduring over two months of recovery from a badly broken leg and surgery. I also have a way to go. But patience has been an important part of my recovery. Patience in the use of a walker. Patience in doing the exercises given by my doctor. Patience in watching the progression of the healing. I know that it will take time; this is a moment that requires my conquering patience.
Patience is often associated with the acquisition of goals, but it is also essential for our personal relationships. A nuance of the concept of patience is related to forbearance. Forbearance means to express “restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish.” Are we willing to forbear with others, even when we may be at odds with them either because of disagreement or their behaviors toward us?
Conquering patience. The Romans changed history and the world with this powerful concept. What might this do in our own lives if we were willing to forbear and be patient in our circumstances; eating a bitter plant now for the sweet fruit that lasts a lifetime? What rewards might we reap in the future if we were willing to be patient now, putting in the hard work needed for lasting benefits, health and welfare?
Blessings as you live well this day; grace and peace as you live patiently in a world focused on instant success and gratification.