“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” – Ecclesiastes 7:8

There are numerous Bible verses about patience, and the value of this virtue is clear.

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While we know we should be patient, this is a challenge for many of us…including me.  It just doesn’t come naturally to me at all.

I have a Type A personality, which means that I constantly feel like there’s never enough time to complete everything on my never-ending to-do list.

Can you relate?  I know I’m not the only one!

Modern technology has only magnified this problem because we’ve grown accustomed to convenience and instant results.

There are many things we can do now that weren’t possible 50 years ago, like:

  • Without getting up off the couch, I can have food from almost any restaurant delivered straight to my door (via Door Dash).
  • I can use Google to find the answer to just about any question that pops into my mind.
  • When I go to the doctor or take an exam in college, I don’t have to wait weeks for the test results. Instead, the results might be uploaded online within a matter of hours.
  • I can sell something online and receive numerous offers within a few minutes via websites like Craigslist and Facebook marketplace.
  • With a few clicks of a button, I can sign up for a credit card and start buying whatever I want (up to my maximum credit limit) even if I don’t have the cash.

These are just a few examples and I’m sure there are many more!

We’re no longer used to waiting, so is it really any surprise that we feel so impatient when we are required to wait?

While this certainly plays a role in driving how we respond to certain situations, I believe that the root cause of impatience stems beyond social conditioning.

What is Impatience?

A quick Google search elicits this definition of the word impatient: “restlessly eager.”

We are impatient when we are “restlessly” (defined as “uneasily, never at rest, perpetually agitated”) waiting for something to occur.

I would define impatience as an unwillingness to be uncomfortable.

I have found that impatience almost always holds hands with some other negative emotion.  That might be anxiety, worry, boredom, or frustration, to name a few.

We feel impatient because we don’t want to feel whatever negative emotion we’re experiencing.

Instead, we want something to happen so that we can escape from where we are and go to some place over there that we think will be better.

For example, let’s say someone I love is undergoing a risky surgery.  I might experience feelings of fear, anxiety, and worry.

I also experience impatience because I want the surgery to be over so that I can feel better.  Once my loved one makes it out of surgery, I imagine I’ll feel a sense of relief and gratitude.

The impatience occurs because I don’t like feeling negative emotion and I want to feel better.

A less serious example could be the impatience I feel when I wait in a long line.  I feel bored and I’m impatient because I don’t like being bored.

I might also be thinking about all of the things I could be checking off my to-do list while I’m wasting time in line.  This will make me feel stressed, and I imagine that I’ll feel more relaxed once my to-do list is complete.

A third example could be the impatience I feel when I’m frustrated with another person.  I feel impatient because I want that other person to behave differently so that I’ll feel better.

In all three of these examples, the root cause is the same.

Why We’re Impatient

We’re impatient when we feel restless or uneasy while we wait for something to occur.  The root cause of impatience is an unwillingness to experience negative emotion.

We imagine that we’ll feel better once this thing that we’re waiting for finally happens, so we try to rush it…in order to escape from the negative emotion we’re currently experiencing.

How to Be More Patient

If you’re like me and you would like to be more patient, how exactly do you do that?

Step One: Surrender Control

The first step is to surrender control to God.  If we’re constantly clenching a tight fist around every circumstance in our lives, we’re going to feel frustrated and impatient much of the time.

Things will not always happen in your time.  There will be times when you have to wait…for what seems like an endless amount of time.

Accept that you are not the one in control and you cannot have complete certainty in every situation.

Most of us believe that freedom comes from having control over our own lives, but actually, true freedom and peace come from surrendering control.

Surrender control to God and be willing to accept His timing in your life.

Step Two: Accept Negative Emotion

Let’s be real.  Are you ALWAYS, in every single moment, going to be great at surrendering control to God?  Of course not.

There will be times when you try to control things yourself.  You’re only human.

You’ll think negative thoughts about your situation and then you’ll experience frustration, anxiety, worry, doubt, and a slew of other negative emotions.

But you know what?

That’s okay.

If you can learn to accept your negative emotions instead of trying to run from them, you’ll be less impatient.

You won’t need to rush your way into a better emotion because you’ll be okay with experiencing whatever unpleasant mood you’re feeling right now.

The next time you feel a negative emotion and notice that you’re experiencing impatience, try not to give in to the impatience.  Instead, allow yourself to feel the initial emotion (boredom, anxiety, etc.).

What does this look like?

  1. Name the one word emotion you’re experiencing (for example, anxiety).
  2. Identify the thought(s) causing that emotion.
  3. Notice how the emotion feels in your body. Where do you feel it?  Describe it.  If you’re feeling anxious, maybe you have a tight feeling in your chest or butterflies in your stomach.
  4. Acknowledge that these sensations are simply “a vibration” in your body. They are not harmful.
  5. Accept how you feel and let time pass. Eventually, you’ll find that the emotion will fade.  It may come up again.  Repeat steps 1-4.

If you want to experience different emotions in the future (for example, maybe you want to feel calm and patient), you’ll need to work on changing your thoughts.

Here are some thoughts that may help you feel more patient:

  • I have enough time.
  • There’s always plenty of time.
  • I’m not in a rush.
  • I’m thankful for time.
  • God does not hurry; yet, everything is accomplished.
  • I trust God and His timing.
  • Of course God’s timing isn’t like ours. Only His is perfect.
  • “Don’t mistake God’s patience for his absence.  His timing is perfect and His presence is constant.  He’s always with you.” – Deuteronomy 3:16
  • It is better to wait a while and have things fall into place than to wait a little and have things fall apart.

Here is my favorite Bible verse on patience – it’s simple but profound.

“Have patience.  God isn’t finished yet.” – Philippians 1:6