I’ve been thinking a lot about the word patience. It seems such an old word; we’ve heard it all our lives. Parents, teachers, grandparents alike encouraged us with, “You must be patient, honey.” It always felt heavy, like there’s a ton of bricks we needed to carry.
Patience is “a willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.” I can definitely relate to the word annoyance. When things don’t happen as quickly as we would like, that is often our first response. It always involves waiting, for something or someone. It most always includes our agenda.
When we confront our annoyance, it helps us be more even tempered and non-reactive. It helps us when dealing with other people. It’s only been relatively recently that patience has been directed towards ourselves. We are told to be patient with the things we are waiting on and the people we are waiting for.
But although patience is an admirable quality, I’ve been thinking that maybe acceptance might be even better. It gets at the heart of our agenda. Acceptance is about not allowing annoyance to emerge in the first place. And although I could be splitting hairs here (truly patient people have likely already conquered this), I think it’s always helpful to reframe things to get a new look. Maybe it’s more a reminder than a revelation.
Some of my greatest growth has occurred from just accepting situations and people as they are. Most of us want to fix things, mostly to address our own fears and insecurity. Acceptance doesn’t mean never trying to change a situation, but at this stage of life, most of us have recognized we are not really able to control much.
The best part of acceptance is that it helps us enjoy the moment we are in. Patience can still focus on the thing we are waiting for, so there is often a hook. “I will patiently wait for that thing to happen, that person to change, that healing to come.” But acceptance says that all I have for today is enough. Today, this moment, this situation holds its arms out to us. It doesn’t mean we have to like it; it just means that we accept if for today. We let go of what we want to happen. We breathe deeply and release our expectations and demands.
This is easy to write, easy to agree with. But dang, it is not easy to live. A benefit of growing older is we can see farther back. We can see that all the things we tantrumed about eventually did what they did. And whether we liked it all or not, we are still living and still get to choose how we tell that story.
So I am working on not just telling myself to be more patient. I’m asking myself to accept what is. This day, this situation, this precious moment. It helps if I get alone and still my ever-racing mind with the following thoughts:
This day is enough.
This situation is enough.
This moment is enough.
And because of that, I am at peace.