by Father Mark Goldasich
It might be a bit unusual asking St. Anthony of Padua for this, but I’ve lost something very valuable and can’t seem to recover it: my patience!
Things reached a head the other day as I was writing a book review online. Although I thought the book was well done, another reader rated it very low.
For some reason, that got my goat and I wrote: “Goodness gracious, this is a novel; it’s fiction! Suspend your disbelief and let it take you for a ride. It’s a first novel as well, so cut the author some slack. And if you can do it better, get crackin’!”
I’ve never done something like that before online and, though my comments were not nasty, I felt they were uncalled for and unhelpful. So, I hit the delete button . . . a day later. I felt frustrated that I couldn’t even make it through half of January before violating my personal mantra for this new year: Be kind.
As I mulled things over, this favorite story came to mind:
One day, a kindergarten teacher saw a little boy struggling to put on his boots before heading home on a snowy afternoon.
She went over to offer assistance. Although he was pulling and the teacher was pushing, the boots didn’t seem to want to go on. Finally, after working up quite a sweat, they were successful.
Suddenly, though, the kid said, “Teacher, look! They’re on the wrong feet!” Sure enough, he was right.
Pulling those boots off was no easier, but the teacher kept at it. She managed to keep her cool as she and the boy worked to get the boots on the right feet this time.
Just as the teacher sighed with relief, the little boy announced, “These aren’t my boots!”
She wanted to scream, but instead took a deep breath and struggled with the boots. Once they were off, the kid announced, “They’re really my brother’s boots, but Mom made me wear them anyway!”
By now, the teacher didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. To her credit, she mustered up patience as she wrestled the boots, yet one more time, onto the boy’s feet.
Pleased that her impossible mission had finally succeeded, she asked the little boy, “OK, now where are your mittens?”
“Oh, I stuffed them in the toes of my boots,” said the boy . . . and the poor teacher fainted.
OK, if you got a laugh out of that story, you’ve discovered one way to foster patience: Develop a good sense of humor.
Judging from confessions I’ve heard over the years, most of us struggle with patience in our day-to-day lives.
“Patience” comes from the Latin root “pati,” which means “suffering.” Webster’s Dictionary explains that patience “implies the bearing of suffering, provocation, delay, tediousness, etc., with calmness and self-control.”
Reading that makes it clear why I need the heavenly intercession of good St. Anthony.
If your patience can use some refurbishing in 2019, perhaps some of the following strategies will do the trick:
• Try the old reliable: Take deep, slow breaths and count to 10.
• Slow down. Leave earlier for appointments, for example, so you don’t have to drive like a maniac to reach your destination on time.
• Put things into perspective; see the big picture. When you’re getting upset, ask yourself if this situation will matter in the next year, the next month, the next week or even the next few minutes.
• Be conscious of what triggers your impatience. If reading the letters to the editor drives you up the wall, stop reading them! Insulate yourself as much as you can from the stressors.
I know that’s not always possible. A few weeks ago, while heading to the dentist, I got trapped in a huge traffic backup on I-435. Realizing my patience was about to fly out the window, I reached for my rosary, instead of honking the horn.
Granted, it took two rosaries before I was free of the traffic jam, but you can’t beat prayer. It’s impossible to be impatient and say the Hail Mary at the same time.
I’ll close now with this “prayer”:
“Dear Lord, I pray for wisdom to understand others, love to forgive them and patience for their moods. Because, Lord, if I pray for strength, I’ll just end up slapping them silly.”