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“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it” (Arnold H. Glasow).
IT IS SAD BUT TRUE: WE MISS OUT ON MANY OF LIFE’S GREATEST BLESSINGS BY GIVING UP TOO SOON. We are not a people noted for patience or endurance. Accustomed to television programs where almost every problem can be solved within thirty minutes (the really tough ones take an hour), we smash any “egg” that doesn’t hatch immediately on our command. For too many of us, the idea of simply waiting for an answer or a solution is out of the question.
There are some who have the opposite problem, of course. They wait and wait and wait, failing to take action when action is truly needed. This kind of patience is only a thin disguise for laziness or cowardice. But for every person with that problem, I believe more of us have the other problem: the problem of impatience. We act too quickly, and our failure of patience costs us dearly.
Patience is a function of hope. Especially when we’re talking about patience with other people, it is hope that moves us to be patient. When we appreciate the possibilities that lie within others and when we’re willing to affirm their potential, we can patiently endure their momentary ups and downs. Believing that others have a future that’s worth fighting for, we can work — and wait — with them.
But there is something else that will make us more patient: recognizing how patient other people have to be with us. And notice that I put the previous statement in the present. It’s not enough to see how patient others have been with us in the past; we need to see how patient they still have to be with us. It’s bitter medicine, but once we’ve swallowed it, we’ll forbear the failings of others much longer.
Patience has to rank as one of the preeminent qualities of character. With it we can conquer nearly any adversary; without it we are vulnerable to nearly any foe. With patience, we enrich the lives of our families and our friends; without it we diminish their opportunity to grow. With patience, we find ourselves moving forward and becoming more alive; without it, we shrivel up and shrink into a pitiful condition. Without patience, we lose most of what life was meant to be.
“How poor are they that have not patience!” (William Shakespeare).