Sometimes it's painful to remain patient — hoping a situation will change for the better, when there is little to no evidence that real transformation is underway or even possible.
Sometimes it’s painful to accept that all hope is gone — realizing a situation is unmovable, like death, requiring one to grieve a particular reality.
I have lived in both spaces, and each comes with a cost and a benefit to be considered.
To extend patience to a situation means facing the hard truth that what is longed for is not yet a reality. Bringing that realization to consciousness reveals a contrast that can be agonizing. Yet embedded in patience of any kind is some measure of hope, even if incredibly thin. That alone can be enough to buoy one’s spirit… that there is still a chance things will improve.
Acceptance, on the other hand, signals grief to enter the scene as “game over” is declared. And while naming limitations does bring one to a process of mourning, it also ushers in a freedom to move forward and use the energy once spent on patient waiting to now focus on other things. This too can console the soul… that the suffering is finally over.
Knowing where to put one’s energy, into patience or into acceptance, is a challenge I know well. My dearest friends will tell you that, when hard pressed, I tend to error on the side of patience… and sometimes to a fault.
The only way I have found to bridge the tension — between being patient and accepting something as a conclusion — is prayer. The famous, shortened version of “The Serenity Prayer,” written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, captures the intention well: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.”
Yes, serenity is the objective. After all, what do we want for our patience but peace? What do we want for our acceptance but peace?
When I struggle to find serenity, because I cannot determine what is truly changeable and what is not, I try to remember that the Source of All… that holds the universe and animates all its forms… can surely hold what’s unresolved in my life too. In fact, She already does, whether or not I am aware. Yet by consciously turning such a challenge over to God, through prayer, I can better release the matter to that liminal space… trusting Spirit will take it from here. This is the only bridge between patience and acceptance that I have found thus far on my journey. How about you?
May you be inspired!