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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Patience in impatience

Many of us are born with an impatient temperament. We feel the urge to eat quickly, act quickly, react quickly. It is very hard to curb that impatience. Often, the very idea of patience leads to feelings of greater impatience, simply because we might view patience as an all or nothing reaction. In reality, everything has grades and so has patience. Goodness and evil are not black and white “And surely there are degrees with your Lord”, reminds Allah Taala in the Quran. This means that even for someone who considers themselves to be impatient, there must be times or situations in which they are patient or it is easier and more natural for them to demonstrate patience.

I think this is important because once we give ourselves the label of 'impatient', patience seems like an impossible goal, a too steep hill to climb. If we see ourselves as possessing some patience, and simply needing to build on it, it may seem like something we can work towards.

When we observe ourselves without passing judgement, we can notice the occasions and situations in which we show patience and thank Allah for those times. We can also notice and evaluate the situations in which our patience is tested and we are inclined to loose our patience. We would then need to think of ways to make the situation more bearable for ourselves. 

It is a worthwhile effort to try to understand our own tendencies and reactions, for with this knowledge, we can gently guide ourselves into better ways and habits. Patience cannot be forced. It must be gradually cultivated and nourished like a fragile plant or timid rabbit. In other words, we must be patient with patience. And a little bit goes a long way. Often we have more patience than we think.