Waiting and Patience . . .

Waiting and patience … are they the same or different? My life currently involves a number of situations that require time to work out. I tend to be an extremely patient person … I try to run on faith that things really work out for the best. However, the waiting this time appears to be endless and/or my patience is being tested as I am struggling with what feels like, lost time … lost life. I stay present and involved with these prolonged events, yet, they are out of my control .. the results are dependent on other people and God. This type of helpless, extended waiting develops a tug-of-war inside of me … Is being patient during this part of my life a good, growing experience or am I wasting time by waiting for things that will never be? Is the ability to wait, be patient, a good or bad way to live? How long is too long to wait for something? And, the big one … How is it possible to have patience/wait and at the same time, move forward? These are the thoughts streaming through my mind during my wait …

Typically, patience is never seen as a bad thing … it is seen as a positive virtue to living a good life. Very obvious if you do a quote search for patience … you get many quotes similar to these:

  • “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Patience is the companion of wisdom.” ~Saint Augustine
  • “A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else.” ~George Savile
  • “Our patience will achieve more than our force.” ~Edmund Burke
  • “Have patience with all things, but, first of all with yourself.” ~Saint Francis de Sales

Waiting on the other hand presents a mixed bag of quoted thoughts … tending more to the negative side …

  • “How much of human life is lost in waiting?” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (he seems to be on both sides of the fence)
  • “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ~Jack London
  • “The trick is to make sure you don’t die waiting for prosperity to come.” ~Lee Iacocca
  • “Waiting for a train to go 
or a bus to come, or a plane to go 
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow 
or waiting around for a Yes or a No 
or waiting for their hair to grow.
 Everyone is just waiting.
    Waiting for the fish to bite 
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
 or waiting around for Friday night 
or waiting, perhaps, for their uncle Jake 
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break 
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants 
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. 
Everyone is just waiting.” ~Dr. Seuss
  • “Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering.” ~Paulo Coelho

A few weeks ago, I caught a thought provoking interview on NPR with author Lee Kravitz about his book “Unfinished Business: Making Amends One By One”. In a way, most of our unfinished business is related to waiting, isn’t it? Sometimes by not waiting and just plowing through life, we have to live with “what if” regrets about things we missed along our speedy way. On the other hand, sometimes waiting becomes a roadblock in life … when we stop living to wait for something … How many things do we put off doing or wait for that are now on our own personal lists of unfinished business? our lists of regrets?

There are many things that we have to wait for because they are completely out of our control and they tend to be the most frustrating (other people to do something, sickness to be cured, pain to cease, the weather and other things in nature). There are other things that we wait for that require us to help the process along (finding love, creation of something, healing a relationship, acquiring the perfect job). There are those things that we wait for with hope in our heart all the while questioning the logic in waiting especially if it prolongs pain (abusive spouse to change, addictions, serious illness, closed doors to relationships and dreams).

Patience can be a healthy, positive virtue, however, I think it can also turn into an unhealthy, avoidance of life. Which category it falls into depends on what you are waiting for, how much pain is involved, and how important it is to you. Is everything really worth waiting for? How long a wait is reasonable and healthy? That naturally leads to the question …

What things are always worth waiting for?

Here is the list I started …. PLEASE add to my list …

  • True love (of course)
  • Spring
  • Babies to be born
  • The right words to come
  • A fresh baked cookie
  • Rain (or sunshine)
  • Forgiveness
  • Flowers to bloom
  • The end of a great movie
  • Hot water to fill the bathtub
  • Healing
  • Perfect picture taking moment
  • The first wild blueberries of the summer
  • A friend to return

And, I will end with the best “waiting” song I know … knowing someone is willing to wait for you is a very warm comfort in this world, don’t you agree?

Bruce Springsteen’s “If I Should Fall Behind, Wait For Me”
(emotional version) or (lighter waltz version)

“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.” ~ Unknown

~ by bearyweather on June 29, 2010.

2 Responses to “Waiting and Patience . . .”

  1. i know the feeling of waiting? being patient or impatient? i haven’t really categorized it. all i know is that every fiber of my being were pulled into different directions — uugghhhh. now that you asked a thought comes to mind — patience is hanging around without any discomfort in the heart for you know that things will be all right, regardless of the outcome. waiting is hanging around impatiently because you have no choice, sometimes there is a doubt in the heart. thaks for your patience in understanding my comments 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic.
      I love your distinction between the two …
      I agree, waiting is more painful … patience is calmer and based in an inner faith.

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