In the confessional I often hear folks confessing impatience.
I must confess that I sometimes become impatient with impatience because I don’t really think it is a sin.
For something to be a sin your will has to be engaged, and by definition being impatient is not willful. It is a stumble it is not an intentional fall.
Often we think the things that make us feel bad or make us feel bad about ourselves are sins. Not necessarily. It could be that they are no more than the flaws and faults that come with being human and being physical creatures existing in space and time with other people.
If you are a mom who gets impatient I reckon you are just being a mom. If you get mad with other people in traffic and yell at the red light to change or honk your horn at another motorist it is not necessarily a sin. It’s just life. Get over it.
I am not suggesting that one should not attempt to be more patient, but with patience, prevention is better than a cure because let’s face it, by the time you need a cure for impatience it is too late.
How does one build more patience? With better communication and a dose of reality
- Often folks lose their patience because they have not communicated their needs well enough
- Because they think they have to be saintly and “put up with it”
- Because they think to be saintly you have to be a doormat
- Because they are afraid to speak for themselves
- Because they have an image of themselves as a self sacrificial giving person and to ask for what they need spoils their false and prideful self image.
- Folks lose their patience because of the wrong expectations about life
- Imagining life is going to be perfect, their disappointment is expressed in impatience
- Expecting other people to be perfect they are disappointed
- Expecting life to be trouble free they are disappointed and impatient
- Expecting themselves to be perfect they are impatient with their own flaws.
- Folks forget about their physicality in time and spacce
- Maybe they just need a nap
- Maybe they just need a sandwich
- Maybe they just need the toilet
- Maybe they just need a deep breath and five minutes of silence
Impatience is annoying, but it is usually not a sin. Allowing it to fester and turn into resentment, rage and revenge is a sin for sure, but impatience itself is more like a pebble in the shoe–it is a sign that something is wrong and that we need to look again at reality and learn again how to communicate more effectively. By “communicating more effectively” I mean being honest in an adult and considerate manner.
It is also a sign that we need to pray more, for there we will find peace and the grace to persevere.