Thursday, September 19, 2013

Opportunities to Practice Patience

How does God teach us humility and Patience? Our daily life is filled with such lessons.  Just take a look at your last frustrating moment. It probably wasn't to long ago. 

For me, my lesson this week involved a malfunctioning AC unit in our house. I call the repair man who I have known for many years and he comes out quickly, makes a diagnosis of the problem and replaces a part. He leaves, but shortly thereafter I find the unit is still not working properly, dripping water with no way to stop it. OK, so I calmly call him back. Patience right? But his time he tells me he cant fix it because it takes to long to call the tech people at the AC company and find out what is needed and that he will not waste his time any longer in this unit. He says to me, "You can call them and figure out the part needed!" I pleaded with him like a little kid, please come and fix my unit, I depend on you, I have paid you for all your work. Underneath my breath I wanted to call him some bad names but at least resisted. He then grumbles that maybe he will have time next week. "Next week!", I am thinking. Now my blood pressure has risen and I feel let down and betrayed by someone who I thought was a friend. 
What to do? I thought, patience, reflecting in his impatience and my brooding impatience. After a few days I calmed down and got on the internet, found the tech support number and called them. They answered quickly, no wait. They gave me the solution to the problem involving one or two parts. Should I call him back or try to find someone else? I decided to call the service man back and told him the information. He says, "Did you get the part number?"  I said, "No, but he told me which of two parts need to be checked. Can yo come out and determine which one I need?" He called to his partner, "Can we go our to Joiner's Fri?" Its now Wednesday.  Then he tells me, "We will be out their Friday" in his normal tone of voice. Surprisingly, this time I was relieved.

In the interim I wanted to scream, to call another repairman, to find someway to get even for him dumping me and leaving me hanging with this problem on a unit he initially installed less than a year ago.

So why all this anxiety over such a small incident? Where is my patience. This was my lesson in patience for the week. The repairman was obviously busy and frustrated not knowing how to repair this unit without technical help. It was easy for me to make a phone call to get the information for him. I could have easily said to him when he first told me about his difficulty, "Ok, I will call them today and let you know what they say. This will take a burden off your shoulders and I know how difficult it is at times to get to various corporate offices for help when you need it." If I had done so, I would not have and any anxiety and I would have relieved him of the frustration dealing with this problem.

The point here is that it is in these mundane events in our life that we can progress spiritually. God is trying to teach us humility, kindness and patience all the time. Life is a training ground teaching us how to become more Christ like.

Elder Paisios tells us,
Generally speaking the difficulties faced by people nowadays compel those who wish to live spiritually to be vigilant. It's just as when, God forbid, war breaks out and people have to be in a state of alert; those who are attempting to live spiritually have to do the same thing--be on alert. Just look at how difficult it is for young children who wish to be close to the Church today! In a way, the war waged against them by the horrible environment in which they live helps them to be alert. You see, in times of peace, where there are no difficulties, most people slack off. But that is when they should take advantage of the peace and use it for spiritual progress; that's when they should try and prune away their shortcomings and cultivate virtues.
If we can accept that it is "wartime", we will then become always vigilant: Practicing patience, trying to understand the other person's needs and frustrations with life, and helping make it easier for them, and in turn helping us to grow spiritually from all our interactions in the world.

Reference: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Counsels IV: Family Life, pg 164.

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