My word this year is “grace” because I want to let go of the frenzied need for everything to happen now. I want to have healthy relationships and to make real progress. I don't want to feel stuck in negative habits, thoughts, and emotions. I want to give and receive an abundance of grace. I want create a life that is enriched and fulfilling. And it will happen. I simply need to be patient.
Many years ago, during a phase of great impatience on my part, my older brother shared an insight that has stuck with me since. This is my spin on it.
Imagine yourself standing on a path. You are waiting for something you deeply desire; a relationship perhaps, a career opportunity, travel - it could be anything. You essentially have two choices. Stay where you are in hopeful expectation that it will come to you, or start walking, trusting that as you move forward, you will come to it.
Patience is not stopping where we are and expecting what we want to come to us. That's a form of procrastination. We need to keep moving on our path until we either reach the place where what we want can happen, or it no longer matters.
Now I want to be clear that I am not talking about a rushed, anxious, dash forward. That is not patience either. Rather it is a deliberate practice of intentional and (often) active waiting. Letting things happen in their time while still being engaged in their happening, planning and organizing, consciously embracing the growth and learning that can happen in the in-between.
The in-between is sadly neglected too often. I find it is where I feel the most frustrated, discouraged, and anything but patient. Wouldn’t it be more peaceful to look at it as a space of preparation so that we may receive our desire from a place of peace and gratitude? Or as a time of reflection so that we can let go of those hopes and dreams that are not aligned with our values and purpose?
I don’t like to feel that I am wasting my time or resources, so I am trying to be more deliberate in giving myself that in-between to decide if I truly want something, if it’s a priority right now, and how to engage in making it happen. When I act in a frenzied rush of impatience, I get absolutely nowhere. Truly.
Again, patience isn’t about standing still (although embracing moments of stillness is incredibly valuable) - it's moving forward with purpose. Gathering wisdom, experience, and building resources. Connecting in meaningful ways with yourself, with those you love, with strangers, and (for myself) with God.
If we know that we really truly do want a dream to become real, then practicing patience can be a time to make space for it in our lives. To declutter if you will. It could be mentally, financially, emotionally. You may need to make actual physical space. Take the time to assess what in your life is taking you towards this dream and what is pulling you away. And then do what must be done. With patience.
My highest priority this year is to build strong, compassionate, and deeply connected relationships with my husband and three sons. The greatest obstacle has been my lack of patience, which makes my heart ache. Recently the thought came to me, “You cannot give to them, what you don’t give to yourself.” I realized that every negative word or action I direct towards them is in essence how I am feeling about myself. An enlightening albeit thoroughly unpleasant revelation.
This is my greatest motivation in practicing patience. It has to start as an act of self-love and care. As I learn to be patient with myself, I then have the capacity to be patient with the people I love the most. It requires forgiveness of myself and others, focus, grace, perspective, and a willingness to let go of control. (Have I mentioned how much I like to be in control?)
Intentional patience gives ourselves and others the space and time to grow into our potential. We aren't meant to catch up with each other or live up to arbitrary expectations. We are here to grow at our own pace to encourage, and support one another.
It is getting out of the way so that things, people, ourselves can happen in the right time and way. It is consistent, continual trying. It is practice. It is priority. It is a way to finding peace. It does not remove responsibility or accountability. It is doing what you can until you can do what you can't.
How could you explore what patience is and is not in your life? I would love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and perspectives in the comments below. We are enriched by connecting and sharing in this safe place.
A self-proclaimed dysfunctional perfectionist, Sarah Bachelder is learning to accept and embrace life as is. She seeks the beauty and vulnerability of living in daring imperfection. After watching her oldest son battle Leukemia, Sarah believes passionately that we humans are capable of thriving in all circumstances.
Connect with her at SarahBachelder.com.