Patience

by Robert Perry

We all know that we are supposed to be patient, yet we are usually ambivalent about it. Patience means waiting calmly, without complaint, for something that we hope will occur. Waiting patiently often feels like reining in wild horses. We would like to step in and force that desired outcome. But, in order to be good and not rock the boat, we restrain ourselves. On the outside we are calm, while inside we are restless.

But isn't this just a show of patience, a mask over impatience? According to A Course in Miracles, true patience means waiting without any anxiety whatsoever. Yet how can we do that? If there is some outcome we desperately want, how can we be completely at peace while it is not here? The key, says the Course, is trusting in the outcome: "Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety" (M-4.VII.1).

This implies, however, that we are certain of a positive outcome, a happy outcome. And to be certain of that in all cases takes a profound trust in God. The Course says God "guarantees that only joy can be the final outcome found for everything" (W-pII.292.1). Imagine walking through life with this kind of trust. As you look on distress and turmoil, your mind is certain that there will be a happy outcome, because God has guaranteed it. It may not be the specific outcome you wanted, but, in the end-even if the end is a long way off—it will be happy.

One of our fears about patience is that it lulls us into inaction when we should be changing things. Impatience seems like a fire that can hasten that change we've been waiting for. Perhaps, however, we have misunderstood true patience. We think of patience as merely an absence, an absence of complaint and anger. Yet true patience is a presence, a presence of trust and a presence of love.

Most of the time we are waiting for people, right? And when we are impatient with them, when we don't trust them to get there, when we are angry at how long they are taking, or when we just give up and leave them behind, how do they feel? They feel unloved. And people who feel unloved usually dig in their heels, and take even longer. On the other hand, imagine waiting for people filled with trust that they will make it, knowing you'll never abandon them no matter how long it takes. Imagine waiting for them in love and not in impatience. Love can work miracles. When people feel truly, deeply loved, they change, in ways they never could have otherwise.

If patience is love and love is what allows people to change, then this turns on its head the usual idea that impatience is what gets results. That is why the Course says, "Now you must learn that only infinite patience produces immediate effects"

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    In response to your entry on true patience, I am so grateful. I have struggled with this for years, never knowing HOW to become more patient. I have prayed, reflected, meditated and asked in every way I knew how. Finally, I have gotten my answer. Put it in the way that if we are impatient we are not showing love, and that the other person feels unloved has given me the tool I needed for reflection and compassion during those times when I am feeling most impatient. I never realized that this is how someone feels when I am acting impatiently toward them. Thank you for your insightful and thought-provoking post. I am most grateful.

  2. Jeff
    Posted March 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Robert, for asking and answering such an important question, and with such absolute proof. This trait, impatience, is perhaps my greatest fault to judgment, and perhaps very related. When I read and re-read the Course citations in your article, I tend to look at it esoterically and say, “of course that is true in the Heavenly realm, but not in my world. I need to take action.” But, it clearly says,”;infinite patience produces immediate effects
    and that in no way refers to a world without time, but to the world in which we are being impatient. It goes hand in hand with the concept that our joint perception that manifests the world will be impacted faster through absolute patience. Which makes perfect sense, because absolute patience is certainty, loving acceptance, and that is what brings things into being, whether it be in Reality or the Illusion. …….
    Jeff

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