Patience is a Virtue

‘Patience is a virtue’ is a proverb we’re all familiar with. We’re told as children, ‘You’ll just have to be patient.’ But how many of us as adults possess the quality of patience?

Wikipedia tells me that patience is one of the seven heavenly virtues listed in the fifth century epic poem Psychomachia (Battle of the Soul) by Prudentius – who sounds as if he might be a virtue himself! In the poem, the virtues are set in opposition to the seven deadly sins in a battle for the Christian soul.

It’s interesting that we hear much more about the seven deadly sins than the heavenly virtues. Does that mean virtue has lost out to sin? On balance, probably not. Does it mean sin is more interesting than virtue? That’s definitely the case in fiction. Characters need flaws; they need to make bad decisions; they need conflict in their lives and relationships. A story about virtuous people would be unlikely to have many readers.

So, where is all this rigmarole going? I try to adhere in some small way to the seven virtues: Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness and Humility. (Okay, not so hot on temperance but you get the drift!) I don’t do it because I’m engaged in any battle of the soul but because it makes for a nicer life and better relationships with people.

Schnelle SchneckeBut yesterday I was anything but patient! I was more like this snail desperate to make progress.


And the reason for my impatience was my brand new website! There it was  – all beautiful and shiny and ready to be paraded. But my subscribers had disappeared! after months of planning, I had a new website, but nobody to share it with.

Woe! Woe! And more woe! I wrote a post ‘Well, here it is’ (if you were one of my mislaid subscribers, it’s the one before this one) and pestered all and everyone I could think of to re-subscribe. And generally made a nuisance of myself.

Then Joy! A lovely man from WordPress – two expressions I never expected to use in conjunction with each other – emailed to say he’d resolved the problem and telling me how to find the ‘lost’ subscribers. He called himself ‘Richard – Happiness engineer’. And indeed, he was.

Did my impatience help? No. Did I suffer because of my impatience? Yes. Have I learnt any lessons? Well, I’ve found out about Prudentius’s Psychomachia, but in terms of developing the virtue of patience – No!




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  1. Trevor says:

    I wonder if there is still a technical difficulty? I can’t see the bit that acknowledges the assistance of Happines Engineer No 2 who, I happen to know, assisted in putting Happiness Engineer No 1’s advice into action – or perhaps I’m exhibiting Envy and Pride!

  2. Julian says:

    Are you familiar with the little proverbial rhyme:-
    Patience is a virtue.
    Possess it if you can.
    It’s often found in women,
    But never in a man.

    Where does that leave multi-tasking, I wonder?

  3. Lindsay says:

    The assistance of Happiness Engineer No 2 was invaluable – as is so often the case!

  4. Lindsay says:

    I do know that rhyme, Julian, although ‘my’ version was ‘Seldom in a woman/Never in a man’, but in these politically correct days … !

  5. Polly says:

    Ah well, you can’t have everything 😉

  6. Christine Steenfeldt says:

    Wouldn’t ‘The Happiness Engineer’ make a marvellous title for a short story or novel? I’ve looked at the virtues and don’t think I possess – the sins, however, pretty much all! Nice post!

  7. Lindsay says:

    No, and I think my claim to the other virtues might be somewhat misappropriated as well, Polly!

  8. Lindsay says:

    I’m ahead of you on the title front, Christine!

  9. Derek Taylor says:

    A virtue should be an absolute principle, applicable in all circumstances. Patience is often valuable (as a means of avoiding the disappointment of not getting what we want – and now! – if nothing else), but aren’t there plenty of times when instead of sitting back and waiting calmly, we have to say ‘Enough’s enough. Time to get on with it’? In fact I think this line of thinking could be applied to all seven virtues. Anyone who stuck to them all monastically would not be the sort of person you’d want to be sat next to at a wedding feast.

  10. Lindsay says:

    I agree, Derek, but sometimes it’s hard to judge when the ‘Enough’s enough’ moment has come, whether it’s the third glass of wine or the ‘let’s get this website in action NOW!’

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