No one goes through life without difficulties, tests, and trials – we all have our share of troubles. The best way to emotionally respond to those troubles, the Baha'i teachings say, is with patience:
Know ye that trials and tribulations have, from time immemorial, been the lot of the chosen Ones of God and His beloved … Such is God's method carried into effect of old, and such will it remain in the future. Blessed are the steadfastly enduring, they that are patient under ills and hardships, who lament not over anything that befalleth them, and who tread the path of resignation.
That spiritual counsel from the writings of Baha’u’llah advises us to respond to our tests and trials with patient endurance, because those with spiritual forbearance are promised an eternal reward.
Patience means waiting. Being patient is about being calm, enduring delays, and trusting that a better time will come. The inner quality of patience makes us peaceful and accepting – without it we will not achieve much in life.
Many things need to be done day by day and little by little to bear fruit. Achieving our goals in our friendships, in our families, and in our efforts to grow spiritually requires us to exercise patience.
We practice patience when things do not go as we like, when we have no control over what other people do, or in circumstances beyond our control. In her book, The Family Virtues Guide Linda Popov explains that we practice patience by having self-control when we have no control over the way someone else behaves.
For instance, even if we feel impatient, we can still act calmly and accept the situation when having to wait for someone who is delayed. Later, we can always consult to come up with a solution so we don’t have to wait until next time. When we’re patient, we know some things can take time, like planting a seed and waiting for a beautiful flower to grow. Being patient means bearing and enduring the necessary things to achieve our goal. Patience is about “seeing the end in the beginning,” the Baha'i teachings assert. Abdu’l-Baha wrote:
Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come. In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree. Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms, and its leaves and its fruits.
When we’re patient, we don’t complain or criticize – instead we forgive other people and ourselves for mistakes. When things take longer than we think they should, we endure delays patiently. We make the world a kinder place, and others feel safe around us.
Without patience, we won’t learn to stand and wait for anyone or anything. Thus, we make people around us upset. Impatient people act irritably when someone makes a mistake or things do not go the way they want. By practicing patience, we learn to control how we react to uncomfortable situations. We take a deep breath and try to understand how to consult. If someone makes a mistake or does not behave well, then we calmly and respectfully talk about the problem. Practicing patience helps us learn to tolerate the tests of everyday life.
Practicing patience is a very important characteristic in learning other virtues – in community building, in service to others, in studying and learning new skills. For instance, when we learn a new exercise, we should also practice patience to achieve our goal. Or if others make mistakes, patience helps us understand that everyone is learning and growing, and that we all come from different backgrounds.
In our own spiritual journeys, we also need to be patient and ask God to help us. When we practice possessing good qualities like patience little by little each day, every day becomes better than the day before. Baha’u’llah assures us that God will also help us when we patiently put in the long-term effort to achieve our goals:
He, verily, shall increase the reward of them that endure with patience.
This Virtues Basket video on patience helps parents and children become familiar with the definition of patience, and offers tips on how to practice it daily.
Setareh Samandari Zargarpour has always been an artist at heart, after a 20-year career in Banking as Branch Manager for Wells Fargo and Chase she transitioned to working in Film. She had finished her Master of Arts in Political Science from CSUN and utilized it...READ MORE