Temper: The Long and Short Game (Sunday Thoughts Link Up #23)


A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.


32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

I’ve gotten better and worse at my patience level over the years. When I was in high school, I was always ready for the next thing—the next academic challenge, the next theater production, the next tennis match. When the “next” thing came, I didn’t sit in it for long. Like a meal you’ve been preparing all day that’s finally ready, I scarfed it down and moved on, clearing the dishes of my day while everyone else sat back and enjoyed the satiation of the moment. When we were trying to get pregnant and finally have the child we’d been praying for, I was always ready for the next cycle, the next step, the next whatever it would take to get us to our baby. The disappointments were too big to want to savor anyway. Anxiety breeds activity and so I moved, back and forth and back and forth from one doctor’s appointment and one medical protocol to another, like an automaton. Better to be moving than thinking.

And then the children came—Charlie followed by the twins, double trouble. That’s when I learned. Sometime in there Charlie taught me to savor the tiny moments…the first syllable rather than first word, the first rolling over rather than first crawl, the first independent bite rather than meal. We now move slowly and we celebrate the small stuff. The twins too taught me to cherish rather than wish. They have showed me how to hug longer. They have showed me how to turn over every shell on the beach before moving on to the next. They grab my face and focus it on the now.

So, I’m better at the long game. But patience is also about temper. Temperance. Even keeled sailing. And that right there is my downfall. Charlie is not patient, to put it mildly. The laptop glitches and he throws it to the ground before I can cross the room. His fingers cannot adequately grasp the puzzle pieces? Across the table they sail. The twins too…they throw toys, each other, themselves. I am no better, throwing up my hands at the slightest disturbance in the waters. We are a hurling family apparently, ricocheting from one small catastrophe to the next. Everyone’s screaming and I scream too, for the pure catharsis of being heard. The havoc makes me feel desperate and they sense it. My frantic heartbeat is catching. I stir the pot until we’re a frothing mess of hypersensitivities.

Proverbs preaches patience on every level—the long and short game. I don’t want to be the pot stirrer, fomenting wrath. My call is not always to be a warrior. I realize this is where the temper starts, where the embers in the fire lay burning. If I approach each day like a battle, then it will be. I’m a good fighter, going toe-to-toe with each round of the day. But every day doesn’t have to be about the good fight. It can be about deep breathing and a steady unclenching of hands around the dispositions of all my people. I cannot control their chaos with chaos. Acknowledgement is the first step. And that’s about all I’ve taken so far. But at least it’s a move away from the fire.

Sunday Thoughts Link Up!

It’s time for another Sunday Thoughts Link-Up! I know there are many out there with wisdom that could encourage all of us. As long as it’s Biblically-based, I’d love for you to join up and then read and comment on what others have shared. Please also leave a comment here. Think of this as a Sunday morning community group that comes to you. And grab the button if you like…

The Mom Gene

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