Wednesday, March 2, 2016
How I Learned (Painfully) That Patience Isn’t Just a Virtue … It Can Also Keep You Out of the Hospital
“Self-love is the key to patience, persistence and success.” ~Unknown
I’ve been wrestling with the reality of patience vs. impatience for many years – with healthy signs that I’m making some progress. But I still experience times like the following situation, when I wish with all my heart that I had stopped and asked myself: If I really loved me, what would I do right now?
After grocery shopping for an hour, I arrived home with a trunk full of bags to unload by myself, and the awareness that I would have to put them all away. I was tired, my patience exhausted, and all I wanted was to get this chore over with and sit down to relax. I grabbed two of the last four bags in each hand, noticing that the ones in my right hand each contained a half gallon of milk. I didn’t think about those heavy bags, just that if I could close the trunk of my car right then, I wouldn’t have to come back out to the garage to do it.
Reaching for the trunk lid, I swung my right arm up above my head, attempting a Michael Jordan slam dunk, grabbed the lid and pushed down. But it took more strength than I had with the weight of the milk containers and I knew as soon as the lid slammed shut that I had hurt my shoulder. By the next day, the pain had not abated so I sought medical help. I had a moderate injury to my rotator cuff that would not require surgery, but would take time to heal, and I would have to limit the use of my right arm, including not being able to drive for a while.
Why was I in such a hurry that I abandoned good sense, acted without thought and chose to do something that would compromise my well-being? If I had taken a moment to think, had a moment’s patience, I would have realized that what I was doing was not only risky but unnecessary. Surely I had already had enough not-so-good experiences with impatience in my long lifetime to learn this lesson. I can remember as a child my great-grandmother, Amanda Hampton Crownover, would wag her pointer finger at me and say, “Act in haste, repent at leisure.” Was I ever! Ouch!
Yet, when an issue, such as patience, or the lack of it, sticks in my consciousness, and won’t go away, I know it’s an indication that it’s way past time to focus on this lesson. My modus operandi is to turn within and realize any insights, apply them in my life to assist me on my spiritual journey, and to share them with other interested souls who also seek to know how life on Earth is meant to work.
As the thoughts began to gather around the current issue – my lack of patience – I recalled that in at least three instances over the past few years, my impatience resulted in some totally unnecessary, minor – yet painful and inconvenient – health challenges. Many seniors would just chalk those experiences up to aging and let it go at that. Not me. I want truth.
When I asked my inner guidance what I’m to learn from these situations, I was told that if I want to continue experiencing life on Earth, I have to take better care of the sacred vehicle (body) that allows me to do so. As usual, part of that aspect had to do with getting the maximum nutritional value from the foods I ingest, and also exercising a little every day to keep all the organs functioning at an optimal level. I’m seriously working on each of these.
But the most important – as well as the most surprising, and vital bit of information – was that I needed to face, heal and release the mental and emotional aspects of me that cause the impatience. In other words, the major insight in this specific situation turned out to be that I evidently had much more inner work to do on loving myself.
Actually, I honestly thought that after all the years of daily inner work I’ve done to heal and release the childhood feelings of being undeserving, unworthy and unlovable, that I was now nearly “home free.” Not so. Evidently I still have layers of undesirable energies that if I want to keep moving forward on the spiritual path, need to be acknowledged and worked with until they too are in alignment with what is for my highest and best good.
As I began the process of plumbing the depths of me to discover insights about my impatience, naturally the first thing I thought of was what I, and perhaps others, consider the real-world definition of patience. It goes something like this: Patience means gritting our teeth, digging in our heels and putting up with some undesirable and negative condition, person or situation.
Now I know that while some of this may be true, it’s obvious that there’s a lot more to the full meaning of patience than most of us realize.
After several days of soul-searching and no instant insights, I realized that the only way I was going to make any progress was by going within and looking at my own life. The first thing that popped up was the fact that when I answered God’s call to be a Spiritual Warrior of the Heart more than twelve years ago, it took not only great daily patience but also long-term persistence (and faith) to stay on my spiritual path. It wasn’t and still isn’t always easy to stay strong and face the challenges and blockages that pop up from the core of my being. More often than not, it was extremely humbling. But the patience and persistence I have managed to gain continue to help me stay lovingly present and conscious of what is happening on my spiritual path so I can open to the insights and fulfill my purpose by sharing them to help others on their life journeys.
As to my inner work, after going within and releasing any negative feelings about my periodic “attacks” of impatience, I released any unloving feelings about myself. At that point, I got it that patience in its true fullness means first and foremost that we are to be patient with ourselves. This also means being compassionate, and forgiving, and loving ourselves at every opportunity, because we are all works-in-progress, and we deserve all the help we can get.
What I believe we all need to remember is that we have our human aspect and our Godly side. While we are human and can choose to express anger, fear, impatience and jealousy, we also have and can express the God-qualities of compassion, caring, joy, love, patience and persistence. I consider myself reminded Big Time that patience means being loving to me first. This opens up the opportunity to give any decision the time it needs before I abandon loving myself and act impatiently.
The other insight I gained was that when we can grow into having patience with ourselves and the process of life – whether or not we’re committed to a spiritual path or just want to create a better life – we will automatically realize that self-love is a vital part of our truth and that it requires daily practice. Actually our universal life mission is to truly love ourselves. It’s been said throughout eons of time that before we can love another we have to love ourselves.
Oh, BTW, if I had had the patience in my garage to put those heavy things down and to ask myself the question: “What would be the loving thing to do?” The answer would have been that a truly self-loving person would never consciously choose to risk injury just to save a few moments of time. Knowing what I know now, I choose to strengthen my self-love, and to claim that patience and persistence guide my life. I can hear my beloved great-grandmother saying: “Finally, better late than never.”
I daily claim and practice self-love, patience and persistence.
With patience I hold on, hold fast and hold out for the best life has to offer.
Copyright © 2014 by Fern Stewart Welch (Reprinted by request.)
The author’s books: “Becoming a Spiritual Warrior of the Heart, (April 2013); “Tea with Elisabeth,” recipient of the 2010 Silver Award for Non-fiction; “You Can Live A Balanced Life In An Unbalanced World,” (Nov. 2008); and “The Heart Knows the Way – How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within,” (Feb. 2008), are available at Amazon.com, other online booksellers, as well as bookstore chains such as Barnes