The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
A man of quick temper acts foolishly, but a man of discretion is patient.
How many times have you made an impulsive decision you later regretted? We’ve all said something in haste that we wish we could take back. We’ve all sent an email we wish we hadn’t. We’ve all done things “in the heat of the moment” that we wish we had done differently.
I’m going to write specifically today about two kinds of patience. The first is the patience to not act on impulse. We’re all guilty of impulse buying, spending precious money on things we don’t need only to feel short on funds at a later time. Many times, had we just waited a short time before executing a decision we’ve made, perhaps we would have reconsidered and made a different decision. There are several strategies I’ve learned when wanting to make an impulsive decision, specifically when I want to speak impulsively:
1. Sleep on it – wait a day.
2. Ask yourself if it will matter in a day, a week, or a month.
3. Ask yourself if you would want your impulsive comment to appear on the front page of your local newspaper.
4. Wait a full minute to make your comment.
5. Walk away and think about what you are about to do.
6. Offer a prayer to God and ask Him for guidance to make the right decision.
The second kind of patience I want to write about is patience to wait for others to catch up. For instance, when a couple has a child, one parent will be better at diaper changing and the many tasks required to take care of an infant. For the parent for whom it comes more naturally, there might be the temptation to lose patience with the other, to criticize “why can’t he/she keep up?” People learn and understand things at different speeds. For some, certain tasks seem almost natural and easy, and the same tasks are difficult for others. Not only do we learn differently, we process and make decisions differently. It is important to be patient with those who are different in their way of thinking and learning. The best way to do this is with empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of someone else, who isn’t as skilled or as quick at things as you are. Ask yourself how you would want to be treated if the shoe was on the other foot. The other key here is humility – my way of doing things isn’t the only way of doing things or the only way that other people would do the same things. Seeing the good in others allows us to exhibit more patience.
There is virtue in waiting. Patience is not only a virtue and a fruit of the Spirit but on a practical level, it can save you a lot of heartache, and even a lot of money.
Lord, be with me in the decisions I make today. Help me to exercise patience and discernment in the choices I am faced with. Help curb my desire to be impulsive. May I walk with You in all that I do today. Amen.
Don’t make impulsive decisions!