Monday, June 3, 2013

Patience: Key to Harmony in Family Life



What are we to do when faced by an angry family member?  Elder Paisios advises us to keep quiet and say the Jesus prayer.

He says,
Look, when someone is steaming with anger, no matter what you say, it will come to nothing.  It is better to keep quiet and say the Jesus prayer. With prayer, he'll calm down, and you can then communicate with him. You see, even fishermen don't go fishing unless the sea is calm; they wait patiently for the storm to pass.
So, why are we so impatient with others? Where does patience come from?  The Elder tells it it come from love.

He says,
Patience stems from love. In order to endure the other person, you must feel deep compassion and pain for him... I have seen beasts turn into lambs. With trust in God, everything evolves normally and spiritually.
Most of the difficulties we face in family life stem from insignificant things.  When we look back on them, even those that lead to a divorce, we often see the causes are do to little things. What is required of us to not let these little things overwhelm us. 

The Elder says,
The greatest scandals, not only in families but also in the state authority, stem from the most insignificant things. In the family one person must be humble before the other; one must imitate the other's virtues and also be patient and endure the other's peculiar idiosyncrasies.
How can this be possible?  He continues:
To make this possible, it helps to think of how Christ  sacrificed Himself for our sins and that he bears with us all – billions of people – even though He is without sin. However, when we suffer from the idiosyncrasies of the others, we are paying off the debt of our own sins. God in His goodness has arranged things perfectly, so that with our gifts, we can help each other, and with our faults, we can be humbled by each other. For every person has some gifts; but everyone also has some faults which one must struggle to over come.
For harmony in a family or in a community, we need to constantly be aware that we are all sinners including ourselves. We have to develop patience and not let the failings of others overcome us. We must remember the sacrifice that Christ made for us and how he endured immense pain for our salvation.  This is our path as well. Through our patience that comes our of true love, others will also feel this love and become encourage to also learn to love.  We need to help each other overcome our limitations.  When we are aroused to anger by someone's behavior we are only adding to the difficulty. When we are humble and recognize our own errors and develop patience we will find a way to endure and overcome all obstacles to harmony in life. In the end for those with patience, this harmony is found in heaven with Christ. Follow His example and we will always be right.

Keep these words of Elder Paisios in mind:
A spiritual person must face all things with divine justice by looking to see what will benefit the other person. For when one is weak and makes a mistake, then he is somewhat entitled to a little leniency, because there are extenuating circumstances. But when one who is in a better spiritual condition doesn't display any understanding, then he will be at greater fault.

Reference: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Counsels IV: Family Life, pp 51-54; 61-62

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