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Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself

21st February 2020

“Have patience with all things but first with yourself. Never confuse your mistakes with your value as a human being. You are a perfectly valuable, creative, worthwhile person simply because you exist. And no amount of triumphs or tribulations can ever change that.” St Francis de Sales

To be told we are valuable independently of what we achieve is surely the greatest gift we can be given. Too often we are made to feel of worth only through our achievements or through our utility to others. This can lead to us being very hard on ourselves if we don’t live up to the expectations in relation to specific goals.

As we edge our way towards the examination season our pupils can feel this ever more keenly, and it is easy for them to think that the measure of their worth is related to GCSE and A Level scores. We therefore need to make a particular point at this time of affirming them for who they are, in all their wonderful uniqueness.

Unfortunately many of our celebrations are linked to achievements such as winning a race or passing exams – they are dependent on meeting external goals which are deemed worthy. That is why the great Dutch Catholic priest and professor Henri Nouwen wrote that it was so important to celebrate a person’s birthday. He wrote:

Birthdays need to be celebrated. I think it is more important to celebrate a birthday than a successful exam, a promotion, or a victory. Because to celebrate a birthday means to say to someone: “Thank you for being you”. Celebrating a birthday is exalting life and being glad for it. On a birthday we do not say: “Thanks for what you did, or said, or accomplished”. No, we say: “Thank you for being born and being among us”.

On birthdays we celebrate the present. We do not complain about what happened or speculate about what will happen, but we lift someone up and let everyone say: “We love you”. That is the best present we can give to our children and to each other. To know you are loved without condition enables a person to be resilient through the ‘triumphs and tribulations’ of life. And if a person has patience and love of themselves then they are able to extend it to others. It is of course what lies at the heart of the Christian message – that all are loved without condition.

Mrs Christine Crossley

Have Patience