In this age of a digitalized world, we have the luxury of instant gratification in almost everything we do. Texting, social media, and email provide instant communication. The news is constantly being updated in real time to provide us with information on events as they happen and almost every piece of news is considered “breaking”. So, what happens when we go through things that can’t be instantaneous? How do we handle situations that we can’t control the speed or outcome of? We get impatient.
There are around 10,000 speeding-related traffic fatalities a year. In this world that we’ve become accustomed to, it’s difficult to temper the expectations set by our minds and we can no longer be bothered to obey the law, drive the speed limit, or keep ourselves from blowing through a yellow turning red. Patience was hard enough when we didn’t have Gig-speed networks and sports cars, but now it’s more difficult to live than ever.
Recently on The Cale Clarke Show, Cale examined an article by Dr. Holly Ordway about the virtue of patience. In it, she talked about the different factors that catalyze our impatience and a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins that gives us advice on how to better live virtuously.
“The media is full of goads to be impatient with yourself, impatient with others, and impatient with the world in general. ‘Why are things not the way they should be right now? Surely, there is something that I or everybody else ought to be doing,’ given that ‘doing something’ very often translates into being angry on social media about something. This impulse to ‘do something’ ought to be interrogated quite intensely,” wrote Ordway. People are looking for a quick fix, the fix that grants instant gratification. Based on the weight that social media carries according to the culture, the easiest way to show that you are doing something about a problem is to speak out about it on Twitter or Instagram.
While not very effective, it makes the individual feel like they are at least reacting rather than doing nothing. The answers are rarely simple enough to warrant us actually fixing them. Ordway says modern Americans would rather feel like they are embroiled in conflicts that require some sort of clear-cut answer. When it is instead a difficult, complex issue with no easy solution, we lash out. It stems from the instinct that a visceral and sudden response will quash all opposition, effectively “fixing” the problem.
Hopkins, who was also a Jesuit priest, offers an alternative to the savage nature of our impatience: “Patience who asks / Wants war, wants wounds; weary his times, his tasks; / To do without, take tosses, and obey.” (Patience, ll. 2-4) The problems we face in modern society may not require instant reaction. It may not require war, conflict, or arguments. It may require that we bide our time and put in the work for the long-term, even if we must suffer in the short-term.
Cale pointed to a phrase Hopkins used, “natural heart’s ivy”. Just as ivy is capable of covering a structure’s rough edges and sharp corners, living patiently will give us the grace to temper our responses to the issues we face every day. God’s grace will smooth over the jagged angles of our heart and encourage us to suffer more joyfully.
Cale said, “We want to fight sometimes. We want to fight against God. And we don’t want to make these acts of self-denial. We don’t want to pick up our cross. We don’t want to be obedient, but we can accept that. We can accept that. We ask God to bend our will to His. And that’s why it says patience is a hard thing.”
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Patience, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray,
But bid for, Patience is! Patience who asks
Wants war, wants wounds; weary his times, his tasks;
To do without, take tosses, and obey.
Rare patience roots in these, and, these away,
Nowhere. Natural heart’s ivy, Patience masks
Our ruins of wrecked past purpose. There she basks
Purple eyes and seas of liquid leaves all day.
We hear our hearts grate on themselves: it kills
To bruise them dearer. Yet the rebellious wills
Of us we do bid God bend to him even so.
And where is he who more and more distils
Delicious kindness?—He is patient. Patience fills
His crisp combs, and that comes those ways we know.
Listen to the full talk below:
Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT