Fruit of the Holy Spirit #7 - Long Suffering
I think this topic is especially fruitful for us during Lent. Long suffering doesn't exactly mean suffering for a long time, but it means getting along with all different types of people and acting with maturity in all situations. It is hard to live without losing your temper, but as adults we want to strive to control ourselves in all areas of life/thoughts/actions/words -- in the home, at school, at work, in the neighborhood, and with our church family. When we have the attitude of long-suffering, we do not attribute bad motives to other people, we don't pick arguments to show we are right, and we recognize that God has put certain people and experiences in our path for our own good. (His plan is always best.) In all encounters, we should eek to act with maturity and patience, especially if misunderstandings occur or our actions are misinterpreted. The attitude of long-suffering will help us live a happy life and help build up others in the Body of Christ.
Of course we are more easily long-suffering with little kids, like baby Ana, or Aunt Lois who don't know better. And of course, Jesus knows when we choose to accept long-suffering with others, such as a friend who favors the Democrats or who someone who plays worse hockey than we would like.
It also means that we should endure our circumstances even when it is not convenient to be a Catholic, such as: going to mass on holy days of obligation, refraining from meat on Fridays of Lent when you are at restaurants or with friends, keeping our Lenten penance for what we have pledged to give up, and not arguing with other Christians who have doctrinal differences with us.
Some Biblical examples --
Noah, who built the ark in the middle of the desert even when people were obstinate with him for listening to God's will, and endured 40 days and 40 nights in the rain;
Seven Sons of Maccabeus, who remained steadfast while they and their mother watched as each brother was tortured and martyred before their own eyes;
Paul, who was imprisoned multiple times and suffered many tortures for his Christian preaching -- (2 Corinthians 11:25)
I think the best ways to develop long-suffering are:
1. Follow the Golden Rule -- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
2. Think about the possible harm that be done with your impatience, and choose a better response.
3. Pray to the saints, who have truly suffered for the faith, asking for strength and join your own sufferings with the wounds of Christ on the cross.