“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.” Unknown
So, as you know, I’m recovering from a hysterectomy that was performed on Thursday, June 6th. It was a surgery that I needed. I thought I had prepared myself both mentally and physically for it.
Patience is a virtue. Yet, patience is just not my thing. I know that about myself and I am trying to improve. I would rather use a paint roller than paint the trim, as I love the instant gratification of big colour on the walls. If I take a test, I want to know how I did right away, not in a week. If I get an idea in my mind to make a change, I want to do it right now. When I find myself in a situation which requires patience, I try my best to be patient.
We all have to practice patience at some point in our lives. Whether we’re waiting for a storm to pass (a real storm or an inner storm), finding a new job, going through an illness or waiting for a baby to be born. There are many times in life where we just have to wait. But for those of us that find patience difficult, how do we survive the waiting period?
1. Accept the circumstance
Right now, I cannot do much physically. That frustrates me. I can barely walk down my street, let alone run a 5k/10k race. I want to help prepare dinner, but my body gets so exhausted, I start shaking and drop things. (Just the other day I was trying to help get dinner on the table, that dear friends had dropped off. I dropped the salad taking it out of the refrigerator and my daughter said, “Go to bed, mom. I’ve got this.” Even though frustrated, I was so grateful for her competence).
Am I happy with my circumstances? No way!! But I’m doing my best to accept them. Everyday I will do just a little bit more. I will respect my body when it tells me to stop. Or at least listen to my family when they tell me to stop. 🙂
No matter what you are waiting for, the best way to attack it is to plan. For me, that meant accumulating lots of books, movies and blogs to read and watch during my recovery. Yes, I do get bored. I’m not really a movie watcher, but I try to watch movies that interest me. I love books, but sometimes I’m just too tired. As I get more strength, I will invite friends over for tea or coffee. Being an extrovert, I need people.
3. Be Flexible
You have a plan! That’s awesome! But what if something doesn’t go like planned? That takes flexibility. Knowing that circumstances change, interests change, and that sometimes things are just out of your control, will make it easier for you to be patient.
4. Be OK if you get frustrated
Yep, it’s OK to whine, cry and complain if you want. Whatever your circumstances, sometimes waiting for change can be uncomfortable, frustrating and just plain suck. The key is to get past the frustration.
5. Do not listen to the negative inner voice
You know that darned voice. The one that says you aren’t good enough, healthy enough, smart enough. It also says things will never change and you’ll be where you are forever. You know that voice, don’t you? We’ve all seen the cartoon image of God on one shoulder, and the devil on the other. That darn devil has a lot to say, doesn’t he? Well, that voice has just got to go!! You’ve heard the quote “Change your thoughts, change your life”. Well, do it! It’s not always easy, and sometimes when you’re tired of being patient, that voice can get the better of you. Lean on friends and family to help encourage and motive you. Kick that voice to the curb!!
6. Be grateful
If you can find one thing to be grateful for, focus on that. Realize that whatever circumstance you are waiting to change, there is a reason for it. Try (and sometimes you’ll have to try hard) to find that one, two or 10 things to be grateful for right now, in this moment. I was feeling sorry for myself the other day. I was so tired of being tired. Then I realized that this is a short term situation for me. Thankfully, I am not fighting a life long illness as others are, I still have my health, my family and my community. Focusing on what I’m grateful for, took away the sadness I was feeling. Maybe not completely, but it certainly helped.
So how am I doing with the six steps that I just outlined during my recovery? Well, I’ve done all six, that’s for sure. The better I feel, the more I want to do, yet my body won’t let me. THAT is frustrating. I’m already tired of my books, movies, blogs, etc. I am now having to change my plan. I am changing my daily routine as I improve, and that keeps me motivated. As I mentioned, I am a people person. People inspire, encourage and motivate me to keep going, keep improving, keep putting one foot in front of the other. No matter how difficult it can be, I pull in friends and family and ask for help. (Not an easy thing to do!).
Remember, challenges make us stronger. They really do. It may not feel like it at the time, but we grow stronger and stronger. Storms produce trees with deep roots, that make them stand firmly in the ground. May you grow deep roots wherever you are, as your storm (circumstance) passes.
How do you wait patiently through your painful circumstances? I’d love thoughts and suggestions as I wait, heal and recover.
Romans 12:12 (NIV)
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.