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Heartfelt: Love is Patient

"Patience is a virtue"

A virtue is a quality or trait that most people consider to be morally good or desirable in a person. What makes a quality virtuous is the idea that it is a quality we don't see in every single person we meet. Patience with ourselves and with others is undeniably tricky, which is why we find ourselves impressed with people who are able to display patience even when filled with disappointment, anger, or sadness. Today's installment of the Heartfelt Series will center around patience; patience with ourselves, with our romantic partners, and with our loved ones.

When We Rush 'Love'

Valentine's Day has just passed, and it seems to be still the day in which single people are the most painfully aware of their singleness. And there are two ways to react to this commercialized holiday: enjoy the day with candy and non-romantic loved ones or be upset with the fact that you don't have a romantic partner to celebrate with. But if we're being honest, a lot of times it's a little bit of both.

I'll preface this by saying that not every person who is single is thinking about getting into a relationship. Many folks are perfectly content being single and purposefully living this lifestyle. However, this doesn't negate the fact that a lot of others find themselves anxious about not being in a relationship; especially if they're wanting to marry, start a family, etc. Both people in this scenario are valid.

But even when we find ourselves in a situation where we long for a romantic partnership, we should not be so quick to rush into relationships. I say this both practically and from experience. When we try to rush or force a romantic relationship, we're likely just to come out with our feelings deeply hurt. We make ourselves see qualities in a person that isn't actually there and we downplay deep character flaws. We try to present our best selves because we want to make sure we seem compatible with this person regardless of whether the compatibility is actually there.

When we find ourselves rushing, we're not just displaying a lack of patience: we're also expressing greed. What we're experiencing isn't love; instead, it is infatuation and maybe a little bit of compatibility that we try to force to become love. Why we do these things can vary from person to person. For one person, it could be impatience due to fear of being alone. For another, it could be impatience with the desire to "move on" aka rushing to get married and have children before we're supposedly "too old". Regardless of the core reason, it is rooted in impatience.

Many people want love to function like a drug, giving them an immediate and sustained high. They want to do nothing, just passively receive the good feeling. - bell hooks

Patience With Our Families

Plenty of my friends and family have become parents within the past few years. I don't have children, but a universal truth that we all know is that raising children requires a great deal of patience. Traits like responsibility, emotional control, and empathy may feel innate in us as adults but they are brand new concepts as children. That is why, while ideal, it's not likely that a toddler will be able to handle any situation with grace, consideration, and rationality.

One somewhat controversial concept I've been hearing about for the past few years is "Gentle Parenting". For authoritative-style parents, it seems to be the butt of many jokes and supposedly not effective for their children. It seems like a lot of people are under the impression that Gentle Parenting is just speaking in a gentle voice and letting your kids get away with doing whatever they want. However, if we actually look up the definition of Gentle Parenting it is: "a parenting style composed of four main elements--empathy, respect, understanding, and boundaries".

That doesn't sound bad. In fact, by that definition, it just sounds like it should just be called "parenting". It sounds like Gentle Parenting is simply just Patient Parenting. This doesn't mean that you talk in a baby voice or 'let everything slide'. Instead, from what is described, parents are encouraged to allow their kids to feel their negative emotions and process them in a way that is productive. Many people will hear that and say "Okay, but you don't have an irate two year old having a temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store". Which is correct. As I'm not a parent, I tend to tread lightly on the subject matter of child-rearing.

But when Gentle Parenting was explained to me, all I could think about is the fact that it forces adults to process their own negative emotions and demonstrating that type of patience and restraint to their kids. After all, if I'm a child who is told that screaming and saying mean things is inappropriate and doesn't get the outcome that I want, wouldn't it be confusing to see my parents raising their voices at others or cursing people out while driving? Why would my parent tell me that I shouldn't hit someone because it's "not nice" but then hit me as soon as I do something they don't like?

Something similar can be said as we get older and become the aid to aging parents. People joke all the time that they end up becoming the "parent" to their parents as their health declines and their sense of independence slowly gets taken away. Anyone who has worked in the medical nursing field or has had to care for ailing parents knows all too well that patience is an ongoing factor. The task itself isn't easy, but can be more tough when the parent/patient isn't compliant or helpful in the process.

When we show patience towards our loved ones, we're actually showing them love. However, this is obviously easier said than done. We wonder why they're not complying, why they seem ungrateful, why they don't ask for help when they need it, and so on. But this is why we remind ourselves why we're helping this loved one in the first place. Is it because we genuine care about their health and well being and love them? Or are we looking for credit? For praise and acknowledgement? To get something in return?

All in all, patience is a form of love. I would argue that it is one of the most important forms of love. When we show patience, we are allowing ourselves to look past our initial negative emotions in order to deal with the problem at hand. When we are patient with each other (as well as ourselves) we are making a conscious decision to choose love.


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