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.