Patience is a virtue and a fruit of the spirit. To be patient is to exercise the art of waiting, to rest for a moment and consider all one’s faculties before taking an action.
Our emotions are reactive by design. They alert us to the importance of the occasion. They let us know something of value has been ignited. They serve an important function, but are too often allowed to serve functions for which they are not suited.
There are two possible responses when we feel emotions. The first, and counterproductive way is to immediately react. To treat our emotions as king, and serve their biddings. If we’re angry, we scream. If our emotions register offense, we fight to avenge their perceived offender.
If we react like this, we act before we take time to listen and understand. We short-circuit truth. We short-circuit choice. We become a slave to our emotions.
The second, and more constructive way to respond to emotions is with patience. Wait a second and figure out why we feel the way we do. Count to ten. What is the cause, the value being threatened? Ask “Why do I feel this way?” Emotions tell us “Something needs attention, and action.” We should always listen. But while emotions are helpful in telling us action is needed, they are not constructive in making good decisions about how best to act.
“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.”
– Proverbs 16:32