忍 (ren) means to endure, to perservere, to bear patiently.
The word etymology:
On the top is the word, 刃 (ren), which is made up of a knife (刀) and blood dripping from it.
This blade which drips with blood, is set over the heart – the image of a wounded heart, a heart pierced by a blade.
There is nothing more painful than a wounded heart. To be hurt physically is nothing compared to have one’s heart wounded from a nasty word, a break up, or misunderstandings arising from the ones we love and care about a lot.
Which is the reason why some people physically injure themselves. Because the emotional pain is too much to bear that physical pain itself acts as a relief, a distraction from the deeper pain.
However, true perserverance comes from being able to bear such sufferings patiently. Though one is suffering from a wounded heart, one tries not to be overwhelmed by it. In fact, one tries to smile as much as one possibly could, and re-assures the others around despite the pain.
This word reminds me of Our Lady of Sorrows, whose “heart was pierced with a sword” (Luke 2:35). As the mother of Christ, who saw her Son undergo tremendous suffering, rejection, and death, she undergone a suffering unlike no other. What mother could bear watching her son suffer so horridly? The hurt must have been great. Truly it would have been like a sword piercing through the heart. The emotional hurt must have been crushing. To see the one you love suffer and die before your very eyes. Who could endure watching such a sight?
And yet, the Blessed Virgin Mary – despite the suffering that she endured in her heart; despite the tears and sorrow that she felt – endured such suffering patiently and lovingly: walking to the foot of the Cross from Jerusalem, just as Jesus did, not giving up, but perservering in love with each and every step she took.
Even if one is not a Christian, one can still think about just how much she had to endure in such a situation. If you were a mother and you saw your son suffering so much, and had to watch him die before your eyes, how would you have reacted? Would you have been able to endure it? Most of us would honestly admit that we wouldn’t. I know I wouldn’t.
But Mary did.
And she, therefore, is the perfect model and example of patiently enduring and perservering through difficulties, sufferings, and pain.
She is 忍 (ren) examplified.
In times of difficulty, in times of pain, in times of immense suffering, let us perservere (忍), but also to perservere (忍) in such moments as Mary did.