Columnists Mark my words

St. Anthony, please help me find my patience

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

Wait for it.

Like every other priest, I’ve heard a lot of confessions during Lent. Whenever an adult comes to receive the sacrament, those three words — “wait for it” — come to mind. About 90% of the time, I’m not disappointed. The sin that is most often confessed (at least to me) is: “I’m so impatient.” 

It’s so common because we live in a pressure-cooker world. There are too many demands and so little time to get everything accomplished. As our to-do lists get longer, our patience gets shorter and that usually leads to explosions of anger, often directed at people we love the most.

One trigger to impatience for many people — me included — is driving. From people not using turn signals to hitting every red light imaginable when running late, there seems to be no shortage of situations that cause us to blow our tops.

Although I’m far from being an expert at patience, I’ve found some things that help me cope with the inevitable frustrations of life . . . at least some of the time. Here are a few:

• Put yourself in the shoes of the person making you impatient. For example, if someone is driving slowly, I remember the times I headed to an unfamiliar location, especially at night. I seemed to creep along then, searching for the right street to turn on or squinting to locate the correct house address. As I expected people to chill out for me, I should extend the same courtesy to others.

• Leave 15 minutes earlier. It’s amazing how much better people drive when I have this “time cushion” to get where I’m going.

• Laugh. There’s a story about a man whose car stalled at a busy intersection just as the light turned green. All his efforts to start the engine failed and a chorus of honking horns from the cars behind made a tense situation worse. The poor guy finally got out of his car and approached the first driver behind him. “I’m so sorry,” he said, “but I can’t seem to get my car started. If you’ll go up there and give it a try, I’ll stay here and blow your horn for you!” (Adapted from “Illustrations Unlimited,” edited by James S. Hewett.)

• Accept what you can’t change. Take a deep breath and see the situation as an opportunity to pray.

• Stop multitasking. Adopt the Latin motto: “Age quod agis.” It means “do what you’re doing,” that is, focus on one thing at a time.

• Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

The church will give you plenty of practice on this last point, beginning with Palm Sunday when you’ll stand for the Gospel and hear the words: “The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.” Spoiler alert: It’s a long one!

There are many advantages to being patient, among them: You’ll be a better listener; have an easier time learning new skills; make wiser decisions; practice kindness and make others feel comfortable; and live a more peaceful, less stressful life.

By the way, I wrote this column days ago, but didn’t send it to The Leaven staff until the last minute. I wanted to give them the chance to “wait for it” and practice patience. I’m sure that they won’t thank me because they know it’s just the kind of thoughtful guy I am!

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

Leave a Comment