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The Patience of a Saint-in-Training and the Heart of a Country Music-Loving Sister

My apologies on the impromptu blogging hiatus!

Sometimes I find that I want to blog about a particular thing. However, sometimes I find myself unable to find the right words to convey my thoughts. Other times, everything just flows. Sometimes, I end up writing something I like only to edit like crazy later...and end up saying something that was better than what I originally wrote. What I really wanted to blog about this time was the second part to my Scratching the Surface of Mawage and Twu Wuv series. However, I kept getting drawn back to PATIENCE. Since I began this blog, I have just let myself start typing and see where everything goes from there. Sometimes, I cannot believe the stuff I have just written. It almost sounds too good to ever have been typed by someone who spends most of their day analyzing brains. Other times, I find myself writing things that I didn't think I could really share or explain as well as I wanted. My conclusion, therefore, is that I am just going to let the Holy Spirit guide me from now on. If God wants me to blog about patience, then His will be done. Therefore, tune in later for more Mawage and Twu Love.
Saint Anthony of Padua, 
You endured much discouragement in your life before finding your calling.
Help us to find patience in our own lives, and to trust God to lead us where we need to go. 
You preached by example. Help us show others, through example, the truth of our faith.
 Amen.

As far as patience goes, I can be pretty patient when it comes to some things. You have to have some form of patience when it come to science because 90% of the time you spend in your lab is spent waiting for something to happen. The other 10% of your time is spent trying to make some sense of your data. In both cases, you need a lot of patience. If you don't have patience as a researcher, you will either lose your mind or develop some form of expensive habit (drinking, drugs, or...in my case...Lord of the Rings collectibles). I'm not sure if there's statistics out there to prove any of the statements I have made in this paragraph...but I have made quite a few observations in the many years I've spent in science. That, and there has to be some reason for all of the Lord of the Rings stuff I've bought over the years...

My younger sister and I share a sweet pad (by sweet pad, I mean a studio apartment). As much as I tune it out, I cannot help but overhear some of the conversations she has on the phone. In my opinion, the poor girl must be some sort of therapist to half of New Jersey's 20-somethings, male and female alike. God bless her too, because she must have the patience of a saint to listen to everyone's problems all of the time and actually offer help and advice. Dear Abby would be out of business if this girl ever decided to take her help to the newspapers. No matter how long the conversation or how desperate the caller, my sister always takes her time and answers and always gives each caller her undivided attention. My sister must have the patience of the saint. I can deal with things going wrong in the laboratory, but when it comes to normal people issues (boy issues, workplace issues, etc)...I have no patience whatsoever. Ask me for advice sometimes, and I make Dr. Phil look like a mollycoddling pushover. I can be compassionate, but I am the type of person who forgets to sugarcoat when it comes to (what I perceive to be) a lack of common sense. In these cases, I tend to tell it like it is, get annoyed with self-pity, and generally lose my cool when people try turning petty mole hills into mountains.

Example of a "making mountains out of mole hills" phone call:Person A calls to say that they are angry at Person B for not returning any calls even though Person B texted to let person A know that they are in a meeting.
 My response:Ask Person A how many times they called Person B, tell them to stop stalking Person B, and remind them that Person B has a life and will be unable to answer the phone until the meeting is over. Remind Person A that they have a life as well and should keep themselves occupied until Person B is able to get back to them. My younger sister's reply would be much nicer, I assure you. 
Another example:Let's assume that everyone coming across this blog has read or at least read about the Twilight series. If you haven't, you aren't missing much. For the record, I'm with Stephen King on this one when it comes to the opinion that this series is nowhere close to good literature in terms of writing and character development...unlike the Harry Potter series. Fact of that matter is, the protagonist of this series is far too clingy for her own good and cannot make a decision for herself without thinking about which boy's (vampire's, werewolf's...whatever's) heart she's break or win over. She's, essentially, a TERRIBLE role model for teenage girls...or any girl for that matter.
My response: If I was this girl's friend and she ever came to me talking about boyfriend problems, I would find myself hollering at her. I would never WANT to holler at anyone...but I do find myself doing it more often than I would like when it comes to some problems that I deem to be unimportant. I guess I can say I inherited this no-nonsense attitude from my dad. As patient as I would want to be in this "Twilight" case, I can just see my ranting about self-sufficiency, independence, the difference between love and infatuation, and the need for the protagonist to get real and stop thinking about boys until she knew what she wanted and could think for herself...period. I would probably also find myself yelling at her to stop feeling sorry for herself, make a life for herself, and stop being such a crying, whining fool of a teenager. My younger sister's reply would, again, be a lot nicer...I assure you. 
The problem with my approach is that no one ever listens to you when you tear them apart. However, I usually can't help myself when I go into Dr. Phil mode....which is why I always put my foot in my mouth later. I feel bad about my "get real" no-nonsense approach because I eventually realize that "what people need to hear" and "what Barbara thinks people need to hear" are two completely different things. However, this realization often comes too late. The truth of the matter is that patience is key when it comes to helping others solve problems...especially in cases where they don't ask for advice.

The truth is, I sometimes lack the understanding to be patient. I have the terrible tendency to assume that everyone else is like me. I assume we're all on the same plane with the same ability to bounce back from life situations. I sometimes even assume that everyone has the same rationale as I do. For example, until I started teaching kids...I did not believe in "special needs." This sounds terrible and I still feel bad about it. However, the truth of that matter is that, as a child, I did not believe that there were kids that actually needed ESL. I thought they were all faking it because I had learned English without a problem when I was in kindergarten (we spoke Portuguese at home). I just assumed that everyone was as capable as I was. I just could not understand why kids would need so much extra help because I never needed help. I mean, I used to finish everything quickly without asking for directions. I did not believe there were kids that needed special reading programs or other forms of special education methods and materials because I had no problem reading. I devoured books. I loved them so much that I thought it was crazy that other kids hated reading.

As a child, I just could not fathom why other students weren't like me. I just thought they were all lazy, faking to get into easier classes, or that they were stupid (I hate using this word and do not feel this way at all now that I've matured, but this is what I thought when I was a kid). I used to get frustrated with how slowly teachers read books during class (so that everyone could keep track). I hated how I was not "allowed" to read certain books in the library because they were supposed to be too advanced for students my age. I still remember, for example, being taken aside by a teacher in third grade because she wondered if my parents had given me permission to read John Grisham's The Client (for the record, my parents always let me read whatever books we had in the house). This is just an example of how out there I was when it came to reading and learning. I was so good at it, that I simply could not understand that other students weren't on the same level.

A lot has changed since I was a kid. I no longer harbor a lot of the prejudices and anger. I no longer am so judgmental of others. I have toned down over the years to become less egocentric and more empathetic to my fellow man. Like Saint Peter, I constantly found myself putting my foot in my mouth. I could not stand Person A because they could not pronounce the word chameleon. However, Person B was my friend and was also unable to pronounce chameleon to save their lives. My love for Person B made me feel more empathetic towards this issue and ultimately helped me get over Person A's inability to pronounce chameleon.  I would also sometimes see my mom or dad suffering because they were not native English speakers. I would see people give them a hard time about it and it would hurt me. This hurt, coupled with the love I had for my parents ultimately let me see past my prejudices and anger against people who needed ESL. In a sense, you can say that love helped me see beyond imperfections and, in doing so, helped me be more patient with my fellow man. In turn, I was given quite a few second chances when it came to knowing some pretty great people.

Then there was the love that others had for me that helped me see past my impatience and lack of kindness. As a child, I never understood how teachers could be so forgiving. Teachers liked everyone, including the trouble makers and no matter how much trouble you got into...your wrongs would ultimately be forgiven and forgotten. I remember getting in big time trouble as a kid (I used to swear like a sailor as a kid because I figured that one way to learn the meaning of a word was to use it often...). There were the times I got into fights and the times I gave people attitudes. There were the times I got in trouble for being rowdy. There were times where even I realized I was in the wrong. There were times where I was so terrible to others that I would panic as soon as I got home...thoroughly convinced that my teacher had somehow black labeled me for something I had done.

However, this was never the case. No matter what I did and no matter what other students did, our wrongs were always forgotten. We were never treated like pariahs for getting in trouble. We were  never truly blacklisted regardless of how crummy our time outs had been or how long we had to sit in the Principal's office to think about what we had done. Ultimately, all was forgiven. I didn't go to Catholic school (been public schooled my entire life), so it took me a while to link this school "forgiveness phenomena" to something infinitely greater (Contrition, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and Absolution). However, it did click eventually. As I experienced it more and more, either at my own hands or the hands of another, my patience grew. I matured and continued to learn. The more I taught and tutored, the more I understood that the kids truly needed extra help. Not all kids had the support I had as a child from my parents, family, and friends. Not all kids could read well due to dyslexia, etc. Not all kids liked the same books that I loved.

I have learned to be more patient with people over the years. I will admit, however, that I am not perfect. I still have some issues understanding people. One huge example of this is my older sister. She and I are on different planes when it comes to many things. I love the girl to death, but there is no way that I will ever willingly listen to her country music. I think she has one of the most beautiful hearts of anyone I know, but I will never be able to understand why she needs so much jewelry. I think she is absolutely gorgeous, but I would not be caught dead in half of the stuff she wears (especially skirts, heels, and color coordinated outfits). I think she has a beautiful voice, but I may kill her if she stays over my place again and snores all night. I admire how much she's grown in her faith over the years, but we will probably never see eye to eye with my extremely conservative Catholicism versus her more liberal Catholicism.

We've fought a lot over the years and it grieves me to say that there were years in which I refused to talk to her. However, even at our worst I never stopped praying for her. I never stopped worrying about her. I never stopped loving her. She was my confidante when we were kids and she's my sister. Yet, even though I love her, there were points when we could not be in the same room together without getting into some form of huge argument within half an hour. In the end, however, the rifts would tear me apart and I would constantly find myself with my foot in my mouth. After overcoming my pride and stubborn demeanor, I have made progress in trying to understand her. I have tried to be more patient with her even though her views differ so much from mine.  We haven't had a huge fight in years, but there are still times where I say something I regret later. Quite frankly, I am not as patient as I wish I could be with her. However, I always regret the lack of patience and understanding I have when it comes to her. Yes, I have improved over the years when it comes to dealing with my older sister. However, I am still trying to understand her and to be patient with her. She's so much like me in the sense that she regrets angry words and feelings as well. Like I told you, she has a beautiful heart (perhaps even more beautiful than my "patience of a saint" younger sister).

These days, I still find myself putting my foot in my mouth when it comes to my older sister. However, I have swallowed my pride and my words more often that not. Sometimes, I just have to pause and try to see the issue from her point of view in order to understand why she feels a particular way about something. I have tried to understand her and appreciate her for who she is. As much as I had to admit it, I am not perfect. I can be quite sardonic at my worst and my sense of humor may not always be understood (which leads to many misunderstandings). However, no matter how much patience I lack in the grand scheme of things, I have a sister who is willing to forgive me...just as I am always willing to forgive her. Regardless of what we say, how angry we can get, or how long a cold shoulder may last...we love each other and recognize that we love each other. We want the best for each other and we will always do what we can to look out for each other. As annoying as we can be, we will also be there for each other. That's just how we roll.

It is also just how God wants us to roll. Believe it or not, we are called to be patient. We are called to put love over pride, the need to be right, and the need to take care of others as we see fit. The fact of the matter is, no matter how much we want to child-proof everyone else's lives....people will always make mistakes and these mistakes will require our patience. We will find ourselves frustrated with others as they stumble through things we deemed to be a cake walk. However, not everyone encounters things in the same way. Furthermore, some have more strength than others. Some have more wisdom than others....and, let's face it, come have more common sense than others. Regardless of what traits we have or what traits we lack, however, the He wants us to be patient with one another.

We are all called to be saints. As a result, we must all strive to be as holy as possible. We are called to be patient in the same manner that God is patient with us. Think about how many times you have made a mistake and been forgiven for it? That forgiveness is a beautiful reflection of God's willingness to be patient with us. If God, through his infinite mercy and love for us, is able to look past our annoying flaws and find our good qualities...we must also seek to do the same. I know how hard it is to do this because this character flaw has been pretty hard for me to change. However, it is not impossible. Furthermore, being more patient with others has made it easier for me to be more patient with myself. This, in turn, has made it harder for me to lose hope in my quest to become a better person with unconditional love and understanding for my fellow man. Hopefully, I may one day attain the saint-like patience of my younger sister and my older sister's heart of gold. Until then, I will have to work on embracing the notion that it does take all kinds to make a world...even if some of them do listen to country music.

Pax Vobiscum

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