Friday, October 2, 2009

Respectable Sins - Impatience and Irritability (Ch 14)

Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges
Chapter 14 - Impatience and Irritability

Bridges has linked these two together based on his definitions of them:
I am going to define impatience as a strong sense of annoyance at the (usually) unintentional faults and failures of other. This impatience is often expressed verbally in a way that tends to humiliate the person (or persons) who is the object of the impatience. (p116)

While impatience is a strong sense of annoyance or exasperation, irritability, as I define it, describes the frequency of impatience, or the ease with which a person can become impatient over the slightest provocation. The person who easily and frequently becomes impatient is an irritable person. (p118)
One of his examples of impatience which struck a chord with me was our response as parents over the slow response to the training of children. I have been heard to say, "How many times do I have to say...?", "When are you going to listen...?' These responses do not help in parenting, they only serve to frustrate us, and humiliate and exasperate our children.

Other examples he gives include our impatience at other drivers, waiting in queues, the slowness of service in a restaurant.

Instead we must heed the instruction from the bible:
I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Eph 4:1b-2)

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Col 3:12-14)

In thinking about whether we are irritable, he asks:
Are you upset with someone or some circumstance a lot of the time? If so, you may well be an irritable person. (p118)
I have certainly been an irritable person at times, and I struggle with it more in the mornings. For some reasons, I find the mornings harder than other times of the day - is it because the noise level starts high and remains that way? I don't know. However, whatever it is, it is no excuse. Husband has had to lovingly, but honestly, show me how I am irritable in the mornings and how it can colour the whole day.

Sometimes I lie in bed in the morning and tell myself "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it". That, preferably combined with prayer, can change the whole tone of the morning, and hence the whole day.

Bridges ends the chapter with some advice for coping if you are at the receiving end of impatience. In the end, we use Jesus' words and actions as our guide and be willing to 'turn the other cheek'.

Some things to think about:
  1. What things make you impatient? Are you impatient enough to be called 'irritable'?
  2. What can you do to change your response to situations in which you are impatient?
  3. Ask your loved ones what you are impatient about and how you show it.
  4. Consider what you are modelling to others/your children when you are an impatient driver, shopper, etc. How could you model Christ better?

On Monday: Ch 15 - Anger and Ch 16 - The Weeds of Anger

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