Friday, February 14, 2014


It being Valentine's Day and all (relax, fellas, I know you hate this day!!!) I looked into a popular Biblical verse associated with one San Valentino :-):

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

No, I haven't gone all 'bible basher' on you - I just wanted to explore the word 'love' from another angle (other than the noblest form of 'love' - caritas) in the context of Valentine's Day.

A funny thing happened, by the way - I suddenly realised that one cannot say 'I love you' to another unless one was prepared to say, in full, all of the following:

"I shall be patient with you, I shall be kind to you, I shall not envy you, I shall not boast, except of you, I shall not be prideful, except of you, I shall not dishonour you, I shall not be self-seeking over and above you, I shall try very hard not to anger you or be angered by you, I shall not keep score of your wrong-doings, I shall not delight in your failures, but celebrate with you in your success. I shall always protect your self-interest, I shall always trust you, I shall always have hope in you, and all of this will be longstanding."


Erm, all of a sudden, those three little words just became harder to say!

Anyway, I digress...

Interesting that the first of the 'love adjectives' is...patience.

Confession time: patience is the hardest virtue for me, personally.

In my nerdy days, I suddenly woke up one morning and decided I was not patient enough. Honestly, it was the weirdest (and to date, most honest) self-analysis I ever mustered.
Being a total nerd, I went to my mother and told her my diagnosis.
She said she already knew this about me.
I asked her how I could fix the problem.

She recommended embroidery.

A friend of mine was a very good embroider at the time. But she was too busy to teach me. She asked me to wait a week. I couldn't wait. I bought a book  and learned to embroider from the book.

To date, embroidery remains one of my best leisure activities. I now know why it cultivates patience. It takes me about 4 months to finish a piece. I really have to wait to see the finished product. No other way round it.

It is also a very feminine thing to do. I feel at my most feminine when I am embroidering something.
I don't get the same effect with sewing, household chores, even cooking.
All these are instant gratifiers - embroidery literally makes you wait.

I was thinking about patience when it comes to the SMP lately.

I wondered - in this world of 'instant gratification', whether fractious relationships are simply due to the parties involved just being too impatient?

Egged on by the morals of a 'throw away' society, no-one wants to wait for anything.

Is this the real problem underlying the high divorce rate? Because no-one wants to take time to cool down a bit?

Which of the sexes is more patient?

I see patience as being a 'feminine' virtue. But am I wrong about this? Do we women (I certainly had to be!) have to be taught to be patient? Or are we naturally patient?

And if we are naturally patient, are we being deprogrammed by modern life?

Modern life?

In this much publicised play/ballet, who was more impatient - the man or the woman? Whose impatience led to both their deaths?


Is this all that is required sometimes - just a little patience?
Surely that alone would solve a lot of SMP problems, no?


Anonymous said...

Cardinal Ratzinger once wrote that "love essentially takes the form of saying, 'I want you to be.'"
Letting someone be who they're going to be takes a lot of patience sometimes!
This kind of patience might be more of a feminine virtue.
If women nowadays show it less, maybe that's because they don't have to? Or worse, because they no longer love?

-- Mac

Spacetraveller said...


"I want you to be".

How profound and beautiful!

One complaint I keep hearing over and over again from men about women is that we want you guys to change...

And it annoys the pants off you.

I sympathise...

"I want you to simply be you" would be a lovely way women can show love, yes. And for sure, it would indeed take patience, I totally agree!

Thanks for that gem, Mac :-)

I guess what is happening is that we are saying to you guys, "I want you to be you - but with a twist!" Even better, "with a twist that I like!"

"If women nowadays show it less, maybe that's because they don't have to?"

I don't understand this statement. Could you elaborate? Why would women not have to be patient??

It would shatter my feminine sensibilities to believe that women love *less* or that *they no longer love*. Perhaps women love in the *wrong* way nowadays? Even better, could we express it as 'women love in a *less correct* way than in previous generations'?

My hamster is better appeased with the latter two possibilities :-)
I know, I know...
Wouldn't that darn hamster die already...

Ladd MaccAodh said...

Patience is less of a masculine/feminine virtue, and more of an adult virtue. Children are impatient; one of the marks of adulthood is learning this virtue. It's easy to think of it as a feminine virtue - it's opposite, the drive to action, is definitely held to be one of the masculine virtues - but in light of your embroidery example, picture the classic images of man who builds a house with his own hands, or who goes out on a long hunt. Patience is just the name for have long future-time orientation and the willingness to invest in a desired but distant outcome.

Modern sensibilities have a somewhat schizophrenic view of patience, and that's not limited to secular society. It's almost the opposite of the adage "hurry up and wait." Everything should come in its own time, but when that time comes we have to rush to get it done. It starts early - go to class, learn at a glacial pace to pad the semester, then get it all correct on the final in one or two rushed hours. Look at how many people will look forward to buying a new house or car for so long, only to do so with barely a few hours of price-shopping, researching financing options, or negotiating.

It stands out best in romantic interaction. I recall my mother's lecture when I was a teenager unable to get any girl's attention: "Don't worry, once they're tired of all those jerks, they'll find you, just be patient." Leaving aside the usual (entirely legitimate) gripes about that worldview, it implicitly requires a guy to patiently ignore romantic entanglements until some undefined future epoch, at which point he has to rush to figure it all out at once.

Meanwhile, girls are raised to put off husband-hunting until they're ready; while "ready" is at an earlier age for religious families than for secular ones, the key similarity is that both groups expect it to simply happen with no prior investment.

If one goes into a relationship with that attitude, why wouldn't one live it (and leave it) the same way?

Now, I'm not saying I know how any given person should "prepare" for a life with an unmet future person. But it's not being done correctly.

Not sure where I stand on what Anon Mac had to say. It's a thought, but I wasn't around in the old days and couldn't reliably separate the truth from the idealism. I do know that there is substantial pressure on women to actively avoid showing love in many traditionally feminine ways. If you don't believe me, google "300 sandwiches," find the article about the woman making sandwiches for her fiance-to-be, and read the comments.

Anonymous said...

What, Spacetraveller, you're asking me follow-up questions? Are you trying my patience? :)

What do I know? I hear that once upon a time a woman was either in the care of her father or of her husband. Some fathers and some husbands were duds. So those women would were stuck with them had to have patience, heroic patience at times.

Then too, taking care of children requires great patience, heroic patience. Though never married and with no kids, I see in my walk through daily life, I see mothers and other women who show great patience toward children.

But women have been liberated from patriarchy, so the first patience is no longer a life, even a survival, skill for women. And less and less women are becoming mothers, in the west at least, and so they never learn patience of the other kind either.

Those were my original thoughts.

Be, Spacetraveller, be! And long live the Sanctuary unwithered!

-- Mac

Spacetraveller said...

Ladd MaccAodh,

Completely agree about patience being an adult virtue. Patience certainly comes with maturity, doesn't it? :-)

Some of the most patient people I know also make slow, deliberate movements - in their gait, speech, etc. Is this a related phenomenon, I wonder?

The reason I see patience as a feminine virtue is that I cannot see how a woman can raise a family effectively without it, as Mac points out.
But I note that you probably see it as a masculine virtue too because a man needs a long-term view of providing/protecting, which also needs patience. Afterall, as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day.


Thank you!

I make up a new Bible verse just for you: Happy are the patient, for they shall rejoice in the Kingdom of God!