Patience is translated as forbearance in some translations of the Bible. Forbearance has a deeper meaning. It includes self-control, restraint, and tolerance, implying that we have a choice about how we response to God in our times of waiting. We can, for example, receive patience as a gift that helps us develop restraint or we can become resentful and anxious, bucking against the reality that we have very little control over our circumstances.
While giving in to our impatience can feel good in the moment, it often sends us spiraling downward into frustration—because even if we do send that email to check on the status of a job we applied for or to find out about the grades we’re waiting to be posted, the fact remains that we can’t do much to change the circumstances. We have a choice in moments of impatience: let Jesus cultivate our inner world or escape into destructive behaviors or attitudes.
So what can we do while we’re waiting to embrace the fruits of patience (self-control, restraint, and tolerance)? We can pray while we work. The world doesn’t stop while you’re waiting for something. There are things and people that still need your attention. Your own soul needs your attention too, as does your body. So, while you’re waiting, pray while you wait by focusing your attention on something you actually do have influence over. Make a date to go bowling with friends, clean your bathroom fastidiously, read a novel, or cook a new food from a different country. Patience is a virtue and a virtue can’t hurt you. So keep waiting. Work on what you can.