by Amanda Judah
Recently I was interviewing a subject for an oral history interview—not necessarily a location where one would expect to find God. While the man in front of me did mention his involvement in his local parish, I connected with his spirituality most through his discussion of patience. He spoke of encouraging others to find more patience in their lives, trusting that their goals would come to fruition. When others were going through challenges, he reminded them to have patience and hope for the future. Even if their present circumstances couldn’t be changed, he argued, people wouldn’t give up if they knew something better was coming down the line. This unwavering hope in the future is what can make patience so powerful. We will certainly be blessed in the future, and being patient for those blessings allows us to be more content with our present circumstances.
While patience is certainly a Christian virtue, it’s not one that is commonly espoused in our society. Sometimes, being patient can be seen as not taking initiative, as merely “waiting” without putting in the work to reach goals. However, patience is far from an avoidance of real-life circumstances. While more outwardly-visible action can be taken, patience is still an active practice. It requires hope even when the outcomes don’t seem certain.
Childhood may be the one stage in life where patience is encouraged. Children are often told, “Wait until after dinner for your dessert”, and “Wait until Christmas for your toy”. In this way, they are taught that delayed gratification will bring them greater rewards. But once adults stop having parents reminding them to be patient, it is easy to become like a child and only want instant results. Once you are in charge of your individual resources and schedule, the temptation to live in the short term becomes much stronger. It may not always feel “fun” to turn down concert tickets to put more savings in the bank, if no one reminds you that you’re working towards owning a house someday. However, as Christians, patience still remains a profoundly important virtue. Since “love is patient” (1 Cor. 13:4) we can focus on growing in patience for ourselves and others as we walk down the road of life.
As I prepare to go abroad next semester, I’ve felt a profound sense of impatience. Even more than just arriving in Ecuador, I want to already have the full range of experiences under my belt so I can know what to expect. But as my interviewee reminded me, having patience will allow me to properly live out my remaining weeks at Boston College- a lesson I can take with me no matter what I’m going through. I will carry with me the hope that God will bless me in times of uncertainty. If my plans don’t seem to match my reality, I will have patience that I am still growing in ways that I was meant to grow.