Probably the most underused and overlooked character trait. Whether we are talking real (in the flesh, 3 dimensional) life, life between the covers (of a book!), life on the big screen or big stage, patience is just not one of the “biggies”.
Imagine the opening number to a big stage performance of a patient person’s life! What would the lyrics to that tune they were belting out be about? Waiting patiently for things to change so they could find happiness? And how about that big screen scene, the one where the main character is found sitting quietly (and patiently) on the sidelines while everyone else in the story grabs a piece of what they want, leaving nothing behind? Oh, and how about that main character in that book, didn’t you love the way he waited his turn to prove to the world that he was somebody?
No, we probably wouldn’t want any of those scenarios. Patience doesn’t really cut it in a main character. But what about real life? Where does patience fit in and how valued is it?
Just watch a group of children and you will see patience (not!) in action. The pushing and shoving, arguing and grabbing that go on over the tiniest things is remarkable. Like, I am remarking on those behaviors, that’s the evidence they are remarkable. It has nothing to do with the more romantic meaning we place on that word. In this case the remarkableness is merely noteworthy because it is being mentioned, by me, in this post. It’s not behavior I condone, nor do I want to encourage it, therefore it needs to be discouraged.
Or…patience needs to be encouraged!
Earlier this week (when we had school), I passed something out to my class and realized it needed to be put in their backpacks right away (or it would not make it home, for sure!)
“Children, let’s put these right in our backpacks. We have a busy day and we might forget them later,” I said.
“Good idea!” they said and stood. Some of them took off for the closet but most walked.
“Oh, it’s always crazy back here when we all come at once,” I heard one little girl remark.
“Yeah, that’s why I’m waiting here,” I heard another chime in.
I looked back to see what was going on. To my great surprise there were several children sort of holding back, waiting. I decided to leap right in on this moment!
“How clever of you, Mia, to wait until there is room near your backpack. And you too, Frank, you knew if you tried to get to your backpack you might get crushed!” I commented, admiring the patience some of them were demonstrating.
And that was it! Next thing I knew, they were all practicing some modicum of patience. And as anyone knows, practice makes better so…
“Wow, boys and girls, you were so smart to use patience! I am so impressed. So many children would have all crushed into the closet and gotten all angry at each other but not you guys! You are too smart for that!”
Well, that was all it took! Name the character trait and vault it up to a level on high! Suddenly everyone was the epitome of patience!
“You know what, guys,” I continued, “You just proved that patience meant you only had to wait about, I don’t know, and extra half a minute! And you actually all accomplished your goal and now we are all ready to move on. You are all super great!”
Yeah, I was slathering it on but you know what? Patience deserves it!
How was your patience thermometer today?