Patience is a Virtue
“Patience is a virtue.” Many people have likely heard this phrase from their elders while growing up, especially when learning to wait for dinner, surprises, or holidays. Patience, defined as the ability to withstand pains or trials calmly or without complaint, is a skill that any Pokémon player must learn in order to complete their journey…and it is also a skill given to us by the Holy Spirit.
Patience in Pokémon
Pokémon is a gaming franchise under Nintendo that has been running strong since its Japanese debut in 1996. The premise revolves around the player catching and training beings called Pokémon, creatures that come in numerous shapes and sizes, from imposing dragons like Rayquaza to tiny, cute puppies like Rockruff.
The games generally have the protagonist perform multiple tasks, such as defeating Gyms to earn badges or performing trials to obtain Z-crystals which allow you to upgrade your creatures’ moves. After the protagonist obtains the required gym badges or completes the needed trials, they face the Elite Four and the Champion of the region. These five trainers are among the most powerful in the area, and upon defeating them the protagonist then becomes the champion of the region.
Here Comes the Grind
The Pokémon games require patience to master, especially if you wish to battle your Pokémon in the competitive scene. The main series Pokémon games are considered JRPGs, and feature turn-based combat in these games. Along with the action, players must also strengthen their Pokémon to gain levels and increase their stats. To pass specific points, trainers may have to grind to level up their Pokémon. This training could require patience on the player’s part, as the grind may take quite some time if the Pokémon that is training is of a low level. However, other parts of Pokémon are where patience becomes learned and tested.
The Perfect Pokémon?
The Pokémon competitive meta-game revolves around players catching and training a team of Pokémon to battle other real trainers. Training Pokémon competitively requires a minimum grind to level 50 for Pokémon, with most trainers opting to train to the level cap of 100. The first big chore for the competitive battler is to breed a chosen Pokémon until a baby hatches that has the desired individual values (IVs) and nature. Some games contain Bottle Caps and Nature Mints that allow you to tweak these statistics, which makes the process slightly less time-consuming, but the overall process of creating a “perfect” Pokémon for competition still requires much time and dedication. Even then, however, we aren’t yet finished.
The trainer then will attempt to maximize their Pokémon’s effort values, or EVs. Effort values are additional values that can add to each stat for a Pokémon. Since the games limit how many EV points any Pokemon or any given stat may receive, trainers must carefully plan out how to train each Pokemon in their party in order to achieve the optimal results.
All the above preparation alone takes a while to do, even if a person is utilizing Bottle Caps and Nature Mints, which are uncommon items anyway. A competitive trainer could easily spend tens of hours, or more, attempting to get their perfect Pokémon. Most competitive trainers will have, at minimum, a team of six battle-ready Pokémon. They may also have more than one competitive team as well! We can quickly see how much dedication and patience is required to get a non-hacked, competitive Pokémon team ready.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
Just as building a good Pokémon team requires patience and dedication, so too does living out the Christian walk that God has laid before his church. Patience—or “forbearance” in the NIV—is one of the fruits of the Spirit, nine traits that are considered essential qualities for a Christian to have. They are assumed to come from the Holy Spirit once the Christian becomes saved. Christians should work continuously to better themselves in these traits throughout their lives. God doesn’t just give these as gifts; folks strengthen them through continual use. This practice is much like how a person would work out a muscle group at the gym.
Why be Patient?
Thinking about the big picture, Christians must have the patience to see the work of God fulfilled in their life, to the extent that God reveals his purposes to them in their lifetime. God’s plan does require time to come to full fruition, and God’s time will be perfect. For example, a person who feels called to become a physician may not feel called to take the traditional route to become a physician. God may lead that person through other parts of life first so that this person could gain valuable insight into God’s calling. This path may make this person more prepared to become a physician than others who take the traditional route. Much like a 4-year-old child waiting for his Grandma’s cookies, waiting for God’s timing is worth it in the end.
The Bible tells Christians that they will endure suffering while in this world. Patience will help a person who is undergoing suffering to refrain from lashing out in anger and to recognize that the pain will one day end, in this life or the next. It helps this person understand that while the suffering is taking its toll now, it is not necessarily permanent. Patience allows us to see God’s footprints leading us onward towards His will for our lives, or at the very least gives us the strength to trust in God when we do not know where he is taking us.
Work Out Time
How does one “work out” their patience? Unfortunately, much like one would work out their muscles, it may need repeated testing and strengthening to become better. A running joke in some churches states that praying for patience will yield trying times. When a situation that requires endurance confronts a person, that event will likely test their patience. Whether the person needs to endure the march of time (such as when waiting for news), or a period of suffering (like when struggling with an illness), they can exercise their patience. It is up to the person, however, to ultimately attempt to learn and use patience. It is quite challenging to remain calm in circumstances of suffering, but if a person uses this time to stay even slightly calm, it is a step in the right direction. If this person continues to try to be patient during periods of hardship, they can see that they are patient for longer. After many periods of waiting, this person will have developed their patience quite a bit.
Patience has numerous benefits for a person. A patient person will likely experience less stress than they otherwise would during times of hardship as they will not be battling their emotions, and may even be able to use that extra clarity to improve the overall situation. Reduced stress will help a person’s mental and physical health as well, as anger tends to increase a person’s heart rate and blood pressure.
My brothers and sisters, I continue to pray for you all. I pray that you will be patient in these times we find ourselves in and that your patience only benefits you as time marches on!