When I was a young girl, I hated to wait for Christmas. It seemed like the day just could not arrive fast enough. The days before the holiday were long because Christmas was just about all I could think about. Santa and gifts and a day filled with new toys. It was exciting but I was impatient. I had no desire to wait even a minute longer.
I had my fourth child when I was 40 years old. When I was 41, I wanted another. So, for two years I basically spent almost every day with that thought in the back of my mind. I didn’t want to wait. I was getting older and the time was now or never and the thought consumed me.
In both of these instances, I was forced to wait. It doesn’t mean I was patient, though. I know that I spent a lot of my time unduly focused on waiting for these things. I could have been productive in a million other ways, but waiting for Christmas when I was a girl, and waiting to get pregnant when I was a woman were thoughts woven in between and all around everything else I was doing.
At least Christmas came.
What I realize now, looking back, is that almost all things require a layer of patience. And, patience does not just mean “waiting” although you tend to think it does. Patience is a little bit of letting go. It’s a little bit of saying “okay, there’s no need to rush things,” or “there’s no need to let this particular thought consume me.”
I admit. I’m not always patient. I’d like to wave a magic wand and make what I want to happen combust instantaneously. I’ve learned how to wait for things, but I’m not exactly patient…yet. Like any virtue, it takes time to learn; perhaps even a lifetime. I’m still working on it.
Things worked out the way they were meant to be, I know now. There were many, many Christmas mornings when Santa came and a pile of toys were waiting for me. Waiting was half the fun. I have all the children I could ever really want even if I do have plenty of love for more. Not everything I want is meant to happen. That’s the true test of patience and the realization that patience is power in itself.
No student has the patience to remain a white belt for long. In fact, the first thing that a white belt wants to know is what is necessary for the first test. There is something special about wrapping that new, colored belt around your waist. You get to move past working out with the “beginners” and start to feel like a part of an environment.
I got stuck on yellow belt for a year. It was not because I didn’t know anything and not because I wasn’t ready to test. I had time constraints that only allowed me to get to class once a week, and because tests always happened on Saturday, I could never make it. Newbies would come to class thinking I was like them, when in fact I had a lot of knowledge already after a year.
I was patient about not telling Sensei that I should be working out with the greens and blues. Over time he recognized that I was missing the tests and one day, he handed me a new belt. I know he NEVER did anything like that. That is not how you test someone. I had literally tested myself through patience and passed.
This was a case where the power of patience revealed itself. I learned that the “wait” is often as valuable as the moment for which you are waiting. During that time, you grow without even realizing or recognizing it. Not saying a word about the fact that I could not get to the test, showing up week after week with the same belt, actually said a lot. It told a story that even words cannot describe.
Have you ever noticed yourself focusing on a particular problem? Something always haunts you. It could be a medical, financial, emotional, or physical challenge. It is all-consuming. You wake up thinking about it and you go back to bed at night with it carefully positioned in the front of your brain so it’s there again in the morning.
There is nothing easy about dealing with problems. It helps to talk them out or to make a plan, but in the end, they poke and prod at you in so many ways that you want to explode. You want to scream. You lash out at others. These are all ways in which you try to cope with your problems.
Patience can help control the tailspin.
I bet there are a million other times in your life when you have had a problem. Many of them resolve over time or you become so intimately familiar with them that they just melt into your life and you accept them. Suddenly they don’t seem as big a burden or they don’t suck the breath right out of you anymore. Perhaps you even woke up one day and the problem was gone or diminished. Over time, the crux of the issue changed and you made it through.
Now is the time, when you are facing a dilemma, to remember that all problems run a course. You cannot always control the path, but if you do take a moment to think about all the problems you have faced throughout your life, you will see that at some point you come up for air, and things started to feel normal again. The power of patience shows you that in time you will feel better. The proof is that you are still here trying, learning, doing. The same will happen now. You will overcome.
You just need to be patient. And hopeful. And brave. And strong. And true.
Every issue resolves in one way or another so when you are harnessed with an exceptionally difficult situation just know that one day it will fall into place. The worry you feel overrides patience so the key is to turn that around. Use a positive mantra and find something good in everyday to help pull you through. Then, this one can be chalked up to a memory, too.
I simply have no patience for those who contort good into bad; who offend and reject; who commit crimes and harm. I would reach out and rehabilitate them myself, but I don’t know how. So, it’s a source of frustration, to wonder why we can’t find a way to get along on this planet when we all have the chance. So, with my lack of patience, I simply don’t listen to it anymore. My listening is not going to change anything, but it will make me sad, angry, and upset.
My choice is to help in my own way. To talk to you, share, listen, plant a seed of goodness somewhere that will someday sprout in a spot once barren. The only people patience I have is for those who try, who contribute, who want to learn. I have patience for friends and co-workers who make effort and difference. I have patience for karate students who are learning and for other karate teachers who help send a powerful message of positive personal achievement. I have patience for those who work hard, never give up, smile in the face of struggle.
For these types of people, I will do anything. I owe them something for bringing balance and comfort and meaning to the world. Without knowing it, on a daily basis they are breaking down the negative mission of others whose hateful actions infiltrate your life.
We surely do spend a lot of time waiting and little time being patient. Every year Christmas comes. It never fails me. I was never meant to have baby number five. I managed to get all the way to a second degree black belt despite the fact that I spent a year at a low belt level. I’ve faced amazingly difficult challenges in life but manage to persevere. I now make choices that allow me to power-up through patience, to know that if I continue to work hard, spend less time waiting and more time doing, that I can make necessary change.
I’m not quite living in the moment yet, and I still worry and fret – a lot – but at least I am aware. When I feel those things starting to creep in, I try to step back again, take a deep breath, find faith in myself.
So, it’s your turn. It’s time to take for what you’ve been waiting and slip it to the back of your mind and it’s time to stop seeking instant gratification. You have many other things to accomplish until the moment is right. When the time has arrived for what you’ve been waiting, you can enjoy it in all its glory. Soak it in. Live it up.
Until then, continue on your path and get done everything you need to do. Put the power of patience to work and you will finally be free of spending all of your time waiting and expecting and demanding.
The power is yours if you want to Win at Life.