Why patience is better than tolerance

Draw the line between right and wrong - patient and tolerantPatience is a virtue, but nowhere in scripture are we told to be tolerant of sin. The same holds true for behaviors that are unwise, unhealthy, or misguided. In relationships, especially with our beloved and our family, we struggle between patience and tolerance. We get impatient, and we often try to cure this by tolerating whatever is testing our patience. 

The real cure is an active relationship with the Holy Spirit. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. 

Think of the toddler who misbehaves. We teach him how to be a good boy, not by our words as much as by the action we take in response. Is it impatience that drives our response, or is it intolerance of the bad behavior? If it’s impatience, and if we improve ourselves by becoming more patient, the child seeks a new way to test our patience. But if it’s intolerance, we draw the line between what is right and what is wrong, firmly and consistently, and the child learns to respect the limitation.

Now think of the last thing your sweetheart did that tested your patience. To love like Christ is to respond with patience, but not with tolerance. Tolerance makes us look away — and then nothing gets resolved or improved. Patience needs to be combined with “no, this is not right” or “please stop, let’s pray about this before we discuss it further” or whatever response from us draws a line between right and wrong, holy and sinful, wise and unhealthy.

Patience gives us strength to draw the line calmly, compassionately, lovingly. Often, this is supernatural. We need to rely on the Holy Spirit by drawing our own line between reacting and stopping to pray before we respond. And we might have to remove ourselves from the room to do this. Bathrooms make great prayer rooms!

Toddlers are happier when they know their limits and feel protected from whatever lies beyond. We never outgrow this, though we try. Perhaps our sweetheart is testing our patience as proof that we really, truly love him/her no matter what. (Perhaps we test our sweetheart’s love, too!) The words, spoken patiently, “no, I’m sorry, we can’t continue this conversation until we’ve both calmed down,” is true love.

Reflection Questions:

  1. When my beloved gets impatient with me, what am I really seeking most at that moment?
  2. How can I communicate the answer to that, in a way that diffuses the problem and reassures me that I am loved?

Strengthen the relationship:
Pray together, asking the Holy Spirit for the ability to grow in patience and the wisdom to know when to draw a line of intolerance. Then each of you share one behavior of your own (for example, a bad habit) that you wish you could bring into better self-control. Share how you feel when you’ve gone too far. What word(s) or signal will you give your beloved permission to use as a helpful reminder that you are loved but the limit has been reached? 

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
© 2018 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries
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  • Denise

    My marriage is in trouble. My husband has been having an emotional affair with a woman who lives in another state. They text and talk sometimes in our home! We have been to counseling and he says he tries but just can’t stop. He knows it hurts me. I have prayed in many ways. I am afraid he is going to take the affair to the next level. How do I draw the line? Do I leave if he doesn’t stop? I’ve told him that if I leave it does not mean I have quit on our marriage. Or do I stay and ask him to leave? How can I set boundaries if we both stay…if he won’t stop. I have surrendered my marriage to the Lord and trust and believe He can save it. I just don’t know what I should do if anything… But of course pray. We have been married 29 years. I see mistakes I have made too and want a chance to heal our marriage.

    1. Terry Modica Post author

      A trained, professional counselor would be the best next step for you. With the Lord’s guidance, find one who does not automatically recommend divorce, as some do. You can probably find one through your Church. When you make the first appointment, state clearly that you want to try everything possible instead of divorce. Your goal in therapy is two-fold: (1) receive some healing for what you’ve been going through, and some new coping skills; (2) get good help figuring out the answers to the questions you asked in this post. The answers you seek need to be designed specifically for your situation with the aid of someone who gets to know you and your situation well.

    2. Grace Kelly Shung

      Hi Sis Denise, I will pray for you. When I read your sharing, my tears began falling from my heart. I believe in a miracle. Cling to Jesus, He is the only son of God and can save your marriage life. Forgive your husband, forgive yourself. May God’s love flow to you and strengthen your marriage. In Jesus name i pray. Amen.

  • Joyce Ying

    Thank you for your beautiful sharing. It is not an easy task and I can feel your pain as I read your sharing and can also feel the help of prayers and the holy spirit.

  • Dorothy

    This is very good, but when my husband’s were going through our bad years ( he was having an affair for four years, and I TRUSTED him so much, I just knew this he would NEVER DO!). How wrong I was, now I can look back and see all the things that was telling me, I just TRUSTED too much!! Had I known I would not have been so tollerant. He was always angry with me, everything was my fault, he pushed everyone who loved him away from him. He had no one left to talk to. For so long I would make excuses for him, but it got so bad, I had to quit. I prayed for SO MANY YEARS THAT GOD WOULD MELT HIS HEART of steel and heal our marriage! Looking back I can see His hand in every step!!! He even guided me through when I found out the HEART RENCHING NEWS!! WE had been married 50 years when this affair started!! How Ashamed and embarrassed and humility I was to be 73 years old and find something like this out. God TOLD ME EVERY MOVE TO MAKE and I listened to Him. We are still to gather and slowly healing. He is so very ashamed and begged and begged me not to make him Ieave me. He would never pray with me, now we bless each other with holy oil and pray together every night, and he always reminds me. Never has my marriage been so good. My heart still cries but I give my sufferings to Our Lady and Jesus to use to save other souls. GOD IS SOOOOOO GOOD!!

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