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Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.

The pre-Socratic Philosopher Heraclitus is correct. There is no shortcut to being a gentleman. It requires long, diligent work, which requires a great deal of patience. Patience, unfortunately, is the toughest part, in my opinion, of being a gentleman. I’ve always struggled with impatience, since I was little. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I really know many people who aren’t priests who have mastered it (or have the appearance of doing so). Yet, it is an essential facet to the gentleman, and there is no way around the necessity of patience.

Fact: It takes three years for a vine in a vineyard to be old enough to bear fruit, but the best fruit starts being produced when the vine is older than seven years old. To prepare for this eventuality, vines are ruthlessly pruned, shaped, and molded into a shape that will bear fruit of good quality. When the fruit is harvested, it must be pressed just right. (If pressed too hard, the seeds will also be crushed and influence the taste and fermentation, potentially ruining the wine). Yeast must be added then, and the grape juice is left to ferment for up to two weeks, and during that process, there is stirring, punch-downs, and other various activities to make sure the process isn’t passive. After that, comes the transfer to barrels, and then time to age properly On average, this takes at least two years for reds. For a good Syrah, therefore, the whole process to create a good wine can take almost 10 years from start to finish. That’s a long wait.

We need to have patience that our work on ourselves will bear fruit, and that work is often painful, especially to the ego. But it is only by properly pruning the vine that good grapes grow—which, to take the metaphor even further, will eventually become good wine. We need to believe in the work we do. We need to know in our hearts that we will be rewarded with a good, wholesome life that is pleasing to God.

And when the results are far in the future, it’s hard to believe that they will even remotely come to pass.  We need to place our trust in God that they will.

Patience, therefore, is the practical manifestation of one’s trust in Christ’s will—not trusting in your own. Which is why it is essential to cultivate. And the best way to cultivate patience is to throw yourself in situations which require it. (Try sitting in the DMV for three hours, or a painfully slow day at work, for example. There is no escape from these situations…so you might as well take use of them.) Once properly cultivated, patience will serve you well in future relationships, because part of patience is acknowledgment of the struggles of others, and seeing things from the point of view of other people.

 

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