“Patience or Resignation”

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Patience appears on many lists of virtues. I thought about the virtue of patience and the temptation of resignation when I considered the difference. Patience seems to me to have a hint of hope about it. We wait with calm and assurance when we are being patient. Perhaps the doctor is running late because she is taking extra time with the earlier patient. Perhaps the traffic is held up because a deer has been hit on the highway. We can settle into patience–with practice–when we have a reasonable expectation that eventually what we are waiting for will occur.

What about resignation?  Resignation, I think, has a sour sense to it. There seems to be some sense of victimhood. We want sympathy for how long we had to wait, believing that it shouldn’t have happened to us. But “what are you going to do?” we ask sadly. Resignation also seems tinged with anger. It signals a giving up which seems different from acceptance. Somehow life has disappointed us once again we sigh resignedly.

There is an old joke that if you pray for patience you will be sure to receive numerous opportunities to practice it. I am not going to pray for patience, but I am going to try to practice waiting with more grace than I sometimes have. I am not, despite my best hopes, the center of the world. Many times I have to wait my turn! May I do so with patience.

13 thoughts on ““Patience or Resignation”

  1. I guess there is a big difference between the two. when you are patient, you would always wait for an outcome in the end but when you are resigned to a certain thing or circumstance, it seems so hopeless.

  2. I agree, arlene. Patience seem sto work best, when we have some control no matter how small, of the eventual outcome. Resignation sets in when we realize our control of the moment, or outcome, does not exist.

  3. 5 stages of resignation:

    A. Patience
    B. Anger
    C. Debate
    D. Sourness
    E. Acceptance

    It seems , as you pointed out, that hope is the key ingredient what makes the difference between patuence and progression to resignation.

    Amazing post.

  4. This is excellent–I am practicing patience…without praying for opportunities to learn it! I saw “resignation” in it’s most bitter form, with my mother–and the “imprinting” affected me for decades. It’s not pretty, and not beneficial. I recall her saying, “this is my/our lot in life”–the tone had a hopeless finality, in which depression could flourish. Well, since learning about the Abundant Life Jesus lived and died to give me, and reading the Bible, I prefer to claim the verse that says, “God is my portion (‘lot’)”–for He only gives good gifts, inheritance, not intentionally bitter ones.

  5. It’s true, the term “resignation” does have a defeatist tone to it. It’s also has a finality to it, whereas “patience” is an ongoing process. I like the way you point out that resignation has a tinge of anger attached to it, something I never realized. You did a good job of explaining why patience made it onto the virtue list and resignation probably never will.

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