I have a canvas that hangs in the hallway of my house. It says “love is patient, love is kind”. These are simple, but powerful words. Patience is defined as the ability to “bear or endure pain, difficulty, misfortune, provocation or annoyance with fortitude and calm and without complaint.” To me, this is a fascinating definition. I never thought of patience as “enduring pain” and yet, patience and pain often go together. We experience pain when we sit in bad traffic or stand in a long line and especially when someone says or does something that makes us feel angry or hurt. If we practice patience, however, we handle that pain with “fortitude (courage) and calmness and without complaint”. That’s what love looks like. It means we don’t get angry or anxious or mean, no matter what the situation. How patient are you? Are there people in your life (including you) or situations that you could be more patient with? Most importantly, are you willing to endure pain without complaint, knowing that ultimately this is the path to love?
How about kindness? “Love is kind.” Kindness is defined by words like “caring, friendly, generous, helpful, courteous, considerate and thoughtful.” These are not selfish words. Do these words define you? Are there ways you could be more generous, more considerate or more helpful to yourself or others? Kindness is also described as “not causing damage or harm.” The people we often hurt most are the ones we are closest to (including ourselves). In what ways do your words or actions cause harm? Could you make choices that cause less? Most importantly, are you willing to practice kindness, knowing that this is the path to love?
Love is patient. Love is kind. If you want to master love, do your best to master patience and kindness. That’s what love is.