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The struggle for patience

  • Published
  • By Captain David B. Knight, Jr.
  • 451 AEW Chaplain
We often hear the phrase "patience is a virtue." Yet, for all our efforts at self-enhancement we continue to struggle with our own tendency to want something to happen, when we want it to happen. Patience is a challenge for each person. This is especially true in an environment where so little is in our ability to control.

If nothing else is evident in living life here at Kandahar Air Field it is the challenge to have patience. Daily, there are experiences which challenge our ability to be patient. We often deal with traffic being backed up while trying to get to an event or meeting. We face the limits of 20 km speed limits and long lines at the Post Office. We also regularly face long lines awaiting stir fry at the Far East Dining Facility; or waiting in long lines for the new KAF treat, Nathan's Hotdogs. Yes, our ability to be patient is constantly being tested.

One of the interesting developments to mark our deployed record is the "wheel of time" or the "circle of freedom" (as it is sometimes called) which sits on our desktop and marks the days of our deployment. For some Airmen, especially when dealing with stresses at home, we may constantly look at the time marked and wish that this wheel of deployed time would go faster.

Have you honestly thought about your own need for patience? This deployment is a great time to work on this character asset. Maybe the challenge to be patient stems from frustrations with loved ones back home. Perhaps, it is the personality conflict with a boss or co-worker who is a source of constant irritation. You might be dealing with issues with work back at home station that continues to somehow drop on your plate. Patience is more than a virtue; it is a means of coping with life's difficulties. St. Augustine said, "Patience is the companion of wisdom."

I would suggest that you use this deployment as a great time to focus on taking one day at a time and seek to be more patient. You can begin simply by focusing on what you can and can't control. As you practice this sort of situational awareness concerning your limitations (and the limitations/weaknesses of others) it will foster a stronger sense of patience and understanding. As our perceived struggle is often with others it is helpful to remember the advice of Tolstoy, "everyone thinks on changing the world; but no one thinks of changing himself."

Try to slow down today and see the big picture instead of getting stuck in the momentary rut of frustration and anger. Perspective is the best means of adding patience to our repertoire. In a place like KAF, where so much is beyond our control, the one thing which we can control is our choice to have a healthier perspective about ourselves, and others. This will help lead to greater tolerance, patience, and a better means of coping with those unwelcome delays in our agenda.