Self-Possession: The Perfect Gift

This week's reflection is written by
Very Rev. Michael S. Murray, OSFS.

Some time ago, I found an article in entitled, “Eight Ways Practicing Patience Radically Increases Your Capacity for Success”. Not to worry – I’m not going to walk through all eight of them – but I will focus on one of them.

# 4. Self-possession


Patience puts us in direct control of ourselves. And there is no more powerful an aid to success then self-possession. When we are patient, we give ourselves time to choose how to respond to a given event, rather than get hijacked by our emotions. It allows us to stay centered no matter what is happening. With self-management, we build trust in our capacity to deal with whatever comes our way.”

A lack of success or progress can almost always be boiled down to a lack of patience. The most basic reason for impatience is a lack of control. When we lack control, we lack understanding and insight. When we lack understanding and insight, we lack the ability to plan, communicate and set realistic expectations. But when we claim control over these issues, we develop the ability to bask in the rewards that patience can deliver.”

Sound familiar? As members of the Salesian community, it should — we’ve heard this before. Just over four hundred years ago, Francis de Sales wrote the following in his Introduction to the Devout Life:

“‘For you have need of patience, that doing the will of God, you may receive the promise,’ says St. Paul. True, for our Savior himself has declared, ‘By your patience you will win your souls.’ It is our great happiness to possess our own soul, and the more perfect our patience, the more completely we possess our own soul.”

Great happiness is not about self-obsession. Great happiness is about self-possession — it is about patience. And there is no better time to practice patience than during the holiday season. Year in and year out, people make the same mistake – we try to control and create the perfect Christmas. Truth is, unless you are inviting perfect people to your celebrations, you are setting yourself up for failure.

In the weeks ahead, set realistic expectations for yourself and others. As we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, meet people where they are – meet yourself where you are. After all, that’s what the Incarnation is all about: God meeting us where we are!

Speaking for myself, given a choice between having a perfect Christmas or a patient Christmas, I’ll take the patient Christmas every time.