Entries in patterns (3)
“Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the Spiritual Life.” - Simone Weil
“Patience is everything.” - Rainer Maria Rilke
How many times in our life have we been told to have patience, or be patient, or patience gets us to good places? How many times are we telling others the same thing? Somehow, in some way, our patience is tested every day. Whether it is a child, a spouse, a friend, a line at the grocery store, or being on the phone dealing with some sort of business item with an automated voice telling us what to do and to wait. It is constant.
As Simon Weil wrote, “When it comes to the Spiritual Life, patience is everything.” We cannot rush growth and we cannot rush God. Somehow His timing is perfect!! Waiting patiently can be one of life's hardest tasks, but most rewarding if genuinely understood and practiced. It tests us…try's us…causes us to grow if we allow it to. It also can bring a sense of deep healing in our lives and relationships around us. Patience is virtuous. It will cause us to get to a different place with God, others, and ourselves.
Now you might be thinking, “What do all of those things have to do with pain?.” Frequently a client will tell me, “I just want to feel better,” and if that statement becomes stronger than “I want to heal” nine times out of ten they will choose one of the above dysfunctions instead of the path towards healing.
The thing about pain is it takes a while, sometimes you have to be there for longer than you want to. Its uncomfortable, it hurts, and it can often be excruciating. It will also stretch you and require you to grow in so many ways. If you reach for a “quick fix,” the pain does not go away, it is simply delayed and it continues to grow and fester until even your favorite coping mechanism does not work anymore.
If you are experiencing emotional pain, it takes courage to allow that pain to heal; to grieve, journal, talk, cry, sob, surround yourself with loved ones and wade through it. However, the end result of feeling rather than avoiding is freedom. Freedom from the pain, and from a vice or dysfunction that has the ability to keep you stuck for so much longer.
19-year-old Dennis recently made the news after he was sentenced to 60 days in jail for stealing a beer from a convenience store. He stole the $3.37 beer to celebrate having just gotten out of jail.
I watch people who repeat the same mistakes and wonder, "Will they ever learn?" But I need to ask myself the same question. Like everyone else, I have patterns of behavior that I tend to repeat despite the negative results they produce. These patterns may become so familiar that I don't even recognize them as harmful; I continue to experience their consequences (repeated relationship difficulties, familiar negative emotions, the "bad luck" that follows me everywhere) while failing to realize that I am a common denominator in these problems.
Significant, healthy change begins by first focusing on myself rather than on the people or circumstances around me. It means asking God to search out my heart. It means being vulnerable enough to ask trusted people to help me understand how others really experience me. It means listening more and defending myself less. It means being willing to be more intentional in experiencing relationships in new ways rather than following the old, familiar paths.
Want to learn more? A good book for helping individuals identify and adjust negative life patterns is Reinventing Your Life by Jeffrey Young and Janet Klasko. For understanding how these patterns work (and can change) in your marriage, check out How We Love by Milan & Kate Yerkovich.