February 5, 2014 by Chris French
Which words do you think would make the list of God’s favorite words? I don’t know what that list would contain, but I’m betting that “patient” would make the cut. He uses it a lot! He says that this characteristic is an outward sign that the Holy Spirit lives inside of us (Galatians 5.22), it is one of His characteristics (2 Peter 3.9) and something He expects us to show others (Matthew 18.23-35). Patience is also a key component of love (1 Corinthians 13.4). Since God has made such a big deal about this trait we had better learn what it means!
Patience is the opposite of a “short-fuse”. I’m sure you’ve had encounters with someone who can be set off by the smallest thing. Something that most people would just brush off this person blows up over. We say they’ve got a “short-fuse”. That’s the opposite of what patience is! Patience is a “long-fuse”. It takes a LOT to make a truly patient person angry. You can push, prod and annoy this person beyond the normal limits and you won’t see them get angry. It’s not because they’re a master at controlling their behavior, but because they’ve dealt with the anger in their heart. It’s not there anymore, so the things you do that would anger a normal person slides off the patient person’s back. They let it go. They make excuses for the way you’re acting and try to see the world thru your eyes. If necessary they forgive what you’ve done to hurt them.
If you’re in short-fuse rehab what can you do to develop a long-fuse? You hear all the time that the tried and proven method to dealing with your anger is to count to ten. Really? Counting is the answer, huh? It’s never worked for me. Maybe I count to fast.
When other people make me mad I try to understand why they did what made me so mad. If they’re a tax guy they’re going thru some extra stress right now. If they have a new baby they’re not sleeping much. If they just got a promotion they’re trying to prove themselves. The more you can put yourself in that person’s situation the longer your fuse is going to be. If I’m mad at myself, which is the most often reason for my anger, it’s usually because of some deficiency, real or perceived, in me. I’ve learned to play to my strengths and do what I’m good at and to appreciate other people’s talents in my weak spots. I cut myself some slack and then I remind myself that one of the reasons I think I should be able to do something that I’m not good at is because of my pride. I’m smart enough to be able to do anything I want, sometimes that’s not true. That hurts my pride which makes me mad.
One of the biggest things that’s helped me though has been to clean out as much anger out of my heart as I can. Think about it like a water tank. We all have the same size anger tank, including the short-fusers among us! They’ve just filled their tank up
to the brim with anger so when something small happens, and they put another drop of anger in their tank it overflows and sloshes out in our general direction. The person who has a long-fuse has emptied out their tank. They’ve worked thru the reasons they’re angry and forgiven and let go. Now when something makes them mad they put themselves in that person’s shoes and see how they would have reacted in their situation. This creates a hole in the tank so the anger seeps thru the hole and out of their lives. That’s how you go thru short-fuse rehab.