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I used to think that phrase had Biblical origins.  However, while much about patience is addressed in the Bible, that particular phrase was actually coined from the 1860 poem, Piers Plowman, by William Langland. There is a line in the poem which states that “patience is a fair virtue.”  As with most Middle English poetry, it’s very long and not the easiest to follow or understand, but simply put, it’s about a man in search of his faith through a series of dreams or visions demonstrating the characteristics of Christianity.

What exactly is a virtue?  I took my 4-year-old granddaughter, Cora’s, advice and “Googled it,” because “Google knows everything.”

And sure enough, Google had an opinion:

  1. behavior showing high moral standards.
  2. (in traditional Christian angelology) the seventh highest order of the ninefold celestial hierarchy.

Patience is most often coupled with the act of waiting.

We wait patiently.

Be patient, everything will come together.

A waiting person is a patient person.

Waiting is a sign of true love and patience.

Patience is learned through waiting.

“Good things come to those who wait.”

Is patience really so passive?  Is it really virtuous to sit and wait?  I’m not so sure that’s the accurate interpretation.  When a seed is planted, it must be nurtured to grow to its full capacity.  It may need more or less sunlight, more or less water, dependent on the type of plant.  While nature takes care of this for the most part, a farmer would be diligent about where and how the seed is planted.  He must actively bring the seed to maturity and be mindful of circumstances.

Being patient cannot be sitting still and expecting things to happen.

If you want a certain career, you have to get the education and training required for that career.  You must pursue that “dream job,” actively seek and apply.  You may have to wait the allotted time necessary to finish your education program and pay your “bottom of the ladder” dues, but patiently, step by step, you will get where you dream to finish.

If you want to be healthy, get fit, lose weight, etc. You won’t get there by sitting on the couch.  There’s no magic formula that will get you there.  You have to do the work every day, day in and day out, patiently knowing that your hard work will bring results.  Not overnight.  It just doesn’t work that way.  Take measurements to monitor your progress.  Don’t rely so much on the scale as a measurement of success.  Be consistent.  Stay focused.  Eat the right foods.  Join a gym.

If you need a coach, mentor or a tutor, go out and find one.  Ask questions.  If something doesn’t work, try something else.  Fail a few times, then try again, patiently.

Passive patience may have been popular in the 14th century, but in our day of technology, not so much.  After all, we have smartphones, tablets, airplanes, email and last but not least, Google!  We have absolutely no reason not to seek out the answers we need in anything.

Perhaps HOW we demonstrate our patience is the real virtue.  We don’t patiently wait.  We patiently act.  Patience is not passive.  Patience is knowing that as we make the appropriate movements, we will realize our dreams, in time.

The New Year is fast approaching.   You don’t have to wait patiently to begin your resolution plan.

Act now!

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