Most of us would like to be more patient. It’s a virtue we feel the lack of in everything from standing in the grocery line to wanting the weight of a great grief to be lifted.
But it’s the small slights and frustrations, punctuating our days like mosquito bites, that can be hardest to overcome. We hardly recover from one before the next one stings us. And they’re often from the people closest to us – our family and coworkers.
Petty peeves, selfishness, carelessness – they’re all easy to spot in the next cubicle, on the road, or in the next kitchen chair. “He used the copier last – he should replace the paper!” “Why didn’t she signal she was turning left? Now I’ll be late,” or “Who let the dog in with muddy feet?”
But we have good excuses for our own faults – if we see them at all – like a child who wails, “She hit me back first!”
Have you noticed something all these attacks of impatience have in common? In each case, what I want didn’t happen. What I wanted others to be, do, or say – well, they weren’t and they didn’t.
That’s it – the whole problem. My impatience doesn’t have much to do with what other people do or don’t do. The problem is that my expectations and preferences came back to bite me. Because they weren’t always realistic to begin with.
But there is another way! A priest I heard yesterday prays this when someone annoys him: “Lord, make them a greater saint than me, provided I am the saint you call me to be.”
It’s spiritual mosquito repellent – in the five seconds it takes to pray it, our wants are brought down to size. What separates us from the other person evaporates and what unites us – our common need for God’s grace – takes first place, where it belongs. We give the job of running of the universe back to God.
We can only hope the one we’re praying for knows the prayer, too, and is offering it for us! :)
Scroll down and let me know if you think this prayer will help you be more patient this week. I can’t wait to try it out (well, you know what I mean…).