Patience really is a virtue


15 Sep 2015
Virtues are good habits for a reason. They are the coaches and spectators of this marathon called life, whole-heartedly advising you and cheering you on, wanting you to become a better person.
I know this because recently I’ve had to spend a significant portion of my time – five weeks in fact – reacquainting myself with my lounge. You see I required reconstructive knee surgery (sounds fancy doesn’t it?) after a silly stack at the snow. I wish there was a story there but sadly not.
And it hit me. Having previously considered myself a patient person – after all, I teach teenagers – I’ve realised over the past month or so that indeed I have some practice to do. I was so easily agitated at having to rely on others to do things for me – and them not getting those things done quick enough. I was so easily frustrated with myself at having to learn how to use said knee again – and not doing that quick enough.
I’m reminded of Slow and Steady, the tortoise, who was not put off by Hare’s bragging or illustrious speed, but instead, graciously persevered with his lot. He was the true winner and good role model to all. Thanks Aesop. I’ll try and persevere.
However, is patience ever taken advantage of? Is there a time when patience can stomp its foot and say “No. I’ve been patient far too long. Something (what ever it is) needs to happen”. Or should it continue to wait, and if need be, make concessions?
I raise these points in regards to the annulment process. My fiancé is currently in the midst of seeking one. It has been 16 months so far and there’s no real indication of whether it will be successful – more to the point, when he’ll even get a verdict. The process has been arduous and clunky and not overly pastoral, and we’re both tiring of wondering if or when.
Our hope is renewed a little though with Pope Francis’ vision to be more merciful and make changes – the first in two centuries – to the process to try and make it more accessible and efficient. It is reinvigorating to see a contemporary issue affecting the Church being addressed in a fresh and timely way. It is reassuring in the sense more attempts are being made to reach out and welcome people, regardless of what their life story is.
I wonder whether the changes will have a marked affect on the experiences of applicants? I wonder whether the Church will see an increase in the number of people seeking annulments and whether there will be a flow on affect in terms of bums on seats? I wonder if I will be able to set a wedding date soon?
I guess I’ll have to keep practising my patience. One thing for sure, I’m glad I’ve had the patience to stick around and witness the Francis effect.
Helen Jacobs is a Catholic highschool teacher specialising in Religious Education and English.
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