All I Have Is a Pineapple and My Patience Is Draining

Dear Heavenly Father,

I prayed to you for patience. Still waiting…

I’m getting impatient.

Love ,

Your daughter Katie

Have you ever had something going on in your life that was really testing your patience? Or perhaps you feel like there is a certain person God specifically anointed to tease every last patient nerve-ending in your body. Maybe you have gone through, or are in the process of, discerning a significant decision and you are getting unbearably antsy waiting for an answer. Patience is tough.

There aren’t enough hands in the world to count how many times I have heard someone say, “Patience is a virtue.” This comment confused me for years. When someone would articulate this point in the midst of another’s helpless, ugly impatience (many times that “another” was me), I would think, “Um…okay.” How exactly does telling me that patience is a virtue help squelch my impatience?

I suppose I should have thought to take this pithy remark apart. Patience is a virtue. Well, what’s a virtue?

According to the Catechism, a virtue is “an habitual and firm disposition to do the good” (CCC 1803). Believe it or not, this concise definition perfectly answers my skepticism about the worth of the commonly proclaimed phrase. Let me explain…

First let us look at the word habitual. We become more virtuous by making a habit of our virtues. In other words, if I want to be more patient, I better start making patience a habit. What happens when patience becomes a habit? Well, my disposition changes. I become a patient person. “Doing the good” becomes the default, not the exception.

Habits can take a fair amount of time to form. Your impatience with that major “thing,” person, or decision testing your patience right now will probably not dissolve into nonexistence simply at your pronouncing yourself a recovering impatient-aholic. But you can find patience to deal with these issues and people with time—time that unfolds as you develop your habits. God will help. He smiles when we try to grow in virtue.

Here’s how you make patience a habit: Be patient in little things. This is the best kind of practice. You have to crawl before you can run.

One of my sister’s old friends used to say something like, “Don’t you just hate it when the guy in front of you at the grocery store is buying out the whole place and you’re stuck behind him holding a pineapple? We laughed over this admittedly true story many times, but there is genius in the application of his story.

What if you took that opportunity in the grocery line to be patient, instead of letting out a few extra huffs, just loud enough for the item-eager customer in front of you to hear?  What if you practiced a fleeting moment of patience in that pesky traffic, rather than thinking about how the driver in the car behind you should have never been given a license? What if you said a quick, silent prayer for patience before you mentally label your coworker as ignorant, your child as impossible, your parents as crazy?

What if you started working on being patient in little things? Well, you would probably form a habit. Then, you could be patient in big things.

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About the Author

Katie Warner is a Catholic wife, stay-at-home mother, speaker, writer, and evangelist who is passionate about taking small steps toward a more meaningful and spiritual life, and helping others do the same.

She is the author of Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family (Emmaus Road Publishing, Fall 2015), a book that offers practical strategies and inspiring stories to help men and women better lead and love their families toward heaven.

Katie writes and speaks about a variety of spiritual and practical topics, and has presented in venues like the National Catholic Bible Conference and numerous Legatus chapters, the Eucharistic Congress of Atlanta, EWTN radio, and on EWTN television. She is also a presenter for the Symbolon RCIA and Opening the Word programs produced by the Augustine Institute. Katie is one of the original contributing writers for The Integrated Catholic Life and a correspondent for the National Catholic Register.

Katie works very part-time (usually during toddler naps and late at night) as the Manager of Communication and Evangelization for Catholics Come Home, a national Catholic evangelism apostolate working to invite fallen-away Catholics and non-Catholics home to the Catholic Church. She holds a graduate degree in Catholic Theology, specializing in Evangelization and Catechesis, from the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado. Her favorite ministry work—and day-job—is family life, and she enjoys homemaking and mothering in sunny Southern California, where she lives with her husband and son.

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9 Comments

  1. Katie-I really enjoyed this post. You have tackled an issue with wit and wisdom which so many of us face every day, yet rarely attempt to correct. The pineapple analogy is spot on-I was there yesterday with a carton of milk in my hand!

    God bless and thanks-

    Randy Hain

  2. Katie, this post is a wonderful, down to earth, real life story that makes it easy to understand a complex fact: how to make a virtue part of one’s life. I hope you will write on other virtues.

  3. Katie,
    I am always aspired by your words.

    We, as humans, need that constant reminder to start small therefore the habits becomes engrained in you. Then you can continually challenge yourself to grow and be the person Go created you to be.

  4. This is great.

    But then in my twisted mind I’m thinking, “Maybe that guy buying the whole store is supposed to be practicing the virture of kindness (generosity of spirit/compassion) and should be saying, “Please you go ahead, You only have a pineapple.”

    🙂

  5. The place I frequently struggle with patience is in the car. Over the past year, I have accepted the belief that when I am slowed in traffic, by someone who is lost, or that older neighbor who can barely see over the steering wheel – that God is deliberately keeping me out of harm’s way by controling the rate of my travel.

    I take a deep breath and say, “OK, God. I get it. Thank you for continuing to look after me and for keeping me safe.” So far, he has delivered me safely and soundly every time.

    Paige

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