Updated: Feb 9, 2021
It’s harder than ever to be patient when we don’t know what tomorrow holds. Even as we enter the holiday season, there’s no clear end in sight.
How do we practice patience in the midst of so much uncertainty?
Not knowing drives me crazy. Not being able to do anything about it makes me crazier.
But this season of Covid is a marathon, not a sprint. Stewing in frustration won’t speed up the season. No amount of griping will pick up the pace of normality.
Impatience will only make this race slower for ourselves.
Until very recently, I thought patience was an external act. That it meant wrestling my roiling emotions behind a door and--with superhuman force--slamming the door shut. But like a kid who “cleans” her room by stuffing it all in her closet...the door inevitably bursts open.
Patience, then, is not an external choice but an internal one.
It’s not about hiding our emotional mess. So what IS patience? And how do we practice it in the midst of such uncertain times?
Here are 4 Facets of Patience (And How to Walk Them Out)
Patience is an explorer. We may be unable to change our external experience, but exploration allows us to move our internal experience forward.
Shift from Stuckness to Understanding By Asking Curious Questions:
What is going on here for me?
What is causing me to feel as I do?
What is true about what I am feeling?
What might not be true?
What assumptions am I making?
What pieces of the puzzle am I missing?
What is the other person(s) experiencing?
Caution: Shift away from “why” and “what-if” questions. These turn us back toward stuckness.
Patience is spacious. It leaves room to assess just as we might before starting a big project. We can take a mental step back to assess our experience without judgment. This helps us feel calmer and more in control.
Try this exercise: Close your eyes and allow yourself to breathe deeply. Visualize yourself taking a big step back from your emotions. Observe them as a 3rd party. What do you notice?
Another exercise: List out your emotions, starting each with “I am feeling__________.” So “I am angry” becomes “I am feeling anger.” “I am frustrated” becomes “I am feeling frustration.” This exercise allows you to separate your identity from your emotions. Ever feel ashamed after an outburst, once you saw how you could have done things differently? By stepping back from our emotions, we’re broadening the options we’re able to see in that moment.
Patience is acceptance of what is. And it is a daily practice, in the big and the small. This is a time of grieving the loss of life as we knew it. Through acceptance, we are freed to focus on what we can do.
Try practicing daily acceptance with these tips:
Affirm your emotions as normal and valid.
Validate the emotions of others.
Recognize what we cannot control. Say it out loud to yourself: “This is beyond my control.”
Understand where you are in the grieving process.
Faith & Fruit: Planting for a Harvest
Patience is the process of planting seeds and nourishing them to harvest. Like any good farmer, we diligently water our crop and trust the seeds are growing. It won’t help our seedling goals to dig them up to see how well they’re growing.
But by trusting our own efforts, the process, and God...we are freed to reap a richer harvest than what we first set out to grow.
Because with patience, I can actually enjoy fruit in the PROCESS of growing. Because any good farmer continues to learn, not just about farming, but about herself.
I have learned far more about myself in the struggle and discomfort of making hard choices than I ever would have if I had rushed the process and rushed the decisions.
We can likewise learn so much about what we love, what we value, where our focus is, our strengths, our weaknesses, our habits, our patterns--by seeking fruit in the process of this season.
4 Tips To Reap Fruit in the Process of This Season:
1) Possibility-Thinking: View shortages, cancellations, & delays as opportunities for creative workarounds. What new recipes are possible with the ingredients you do have? If schools aren’t holding graduation...what opportunities can be created for your community to celebrate your seniors?
2) Life assessment: What has been valuable in this season? What do you want to invite back into your life? What has dropped off the radar that is actually a relief? What have you been learning about yourself?
3) Gratitude: Reflect on new ideas and opportunities you would have otherwise missed. What has been valuable and precious in this season? What have you learned about the gifts in your life?
4) Explore your passions: What matters to you? What brings you joy?
Wherever you are in your Covid season, remember that reaping a richer harvest in patience is a daily practice. Give yourself grace and celebrate each small gain.
Join the Conversation:
Where have you been able to celebrate small gains? In what ways have you been able to give yourself or others extra grace in this season?
This blog post was originally posted on April 30, 2020 via Stephanie Haynes Coaching.