by Father Mark Goldasich
“Oh, for the love of Pete!”
I’ve said this a lot lately. I really didn’t know the origin of the expression, but found that it’s actually a euphemism that circumvents a person using the name of God in place of Pete. That’s the good thing. The bad thing is that phrase signifies impatience.
The word “patience” comes from the Latin word for “suffering.” Being patient is definitely suffering for me. Somehow, the older I’ve gotten, the more impatient I’ve become. And, judging from the many confessions I’ve heard over the years, it’s pretty much a universal struggle.
Heck, we’ve just celebrated Ash Wednesday and I’m already itching for Easter to arrive.
Part of the problem is our speeded-up world. New music can be instantly downloaded to our phones or tablets — after appropriate payment, naturally. We can switch to any of dozens or hundreds of stations on our TVs without leaving our chair, searching for something good to watch.
We zap meals in the microwave or Instant Pot. We’re so addicted to speed that we’re thrilled Amazon can same-day deliver to our area now, relieved to be released from that incredibly slow two-day delivery.
Some of the impatience, however, we bring upon ourselves. We overschedule things and leave inadequate time to get from place to place, causing us to curse drivers having the audacity to drive the speed limit or people intentionally slowing down “our” line at the grocery store.
So, to teach us to grow in holiness through patience, God gives us these long six weeks of Lent. Yes, Easter will come . . . but on its own time. It’s the same with holiness: It will come . . . but only with time.
To be more patient this past week, I’ve been repeating the responsorial psalm from last Sunday: “I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble and you fill me with the joy of salvation.” It’s made me realize that in times of trouble (waiting), I turn to me, and the result is not joy, but impatience.
So, add another thing to what I’m working on this Lenten season.
Scouring the internet for suggestions on cultivating patience led me to some practical ideas, like taking deep breaths, slowing down, practicing gratitude and paying attention to what triggers an impatient reaction.
Other helpful hints are to remember what’s really important, to take a “time out” when tense and to think before speaking or sending an email.
One of my favorite suggestions, though, comes from Jane Bolton, a therapist, who recommends embracing the uncomfortable. In a stressful situation, try saying, “This is merely uncomfortable, not intolerable.” That change of perspective can work wonders on settling jangling nerves.
The simplest solution, though, is probably this one: just laugh!
For us Christians, there’s no more powerful way to derail impatience than prayer. I have a favorite one that I use now and then. When I went to find the book it was in, I suspect God had a hand in it, as it was the first one I picked up . . . and there was even a bookmark on the page. (OK, Lord, I get it. I get it.)
I’ve used it here before, but it bears repeating. Found in Brian Cavanaugh’s “’Fresh Packet of Sower’s Seeds,” it’s called the Prayer for Tongue Control:
“O Lord, keep me from getting talkative, and particularly from the fatal habit that I must say something on every subject at every occasion.
Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips when inclined to tell of my aches and pains. They are increasing with the years and my love of rehearing them grows sweeter as the years go by.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet. I don’t want to be a saint. Some of them are hard to live with, but a sour old woman or man is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Help me to extract all possible fun out of life. There are so many funny things around, and I don’t want to miss any of them.
Make me thoughtful, but not moody; helpful, but not bossy.
With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all. But you, my Lord, know that I want a few friends left at the end.”
Quick! Gimme a hearty “Amen!”