Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. — Ephesians 4:2
Do you consider yourself to be a patient person? With your family members, do you always maintain a calm demeanor, think positively, and take a deep breath instead of lashing out with unkind words? I thought not. We all struggle with patience, and the stresses of deployment can be cumulative so that the “last straw” can be something minor put in combination with a list of other pressures. Recognizing this can be helpful in learning to control our tempers, The Love Dare says, “Few of us do patience very well, and none of us do it naturally. But wise men and women will pursue it as an essential ingredient to their marriage relationships. That’s a good starting point to demonstrate true love.” (p. 3)
I have to admit at being surprised that The Love Dare starts with a challenge to demonstrate patience. After reading the first day’s writings (p. 1-4) I am convinced that the authors, Stephen and Alex Kendrick, knew exactly where we need to begin. See if you can agree with what they write on Day 1: “Anger is usually caused when the strong desire for something is mixed with disappointment or grief. You don’t get what you want and you start heating up inside. It is often an emotional reaction that flows out of our own selfishness, foolishness, or evil motives. Patience, however, makes us wise. It doesn’t rush to judgment but listens to what the other person is saying. . . .As sure as a lack of patience will turn your home into a war zone, the practice of patience will foster peace and quiet. . . . Patience is where love meets wisdom. . . . Patience helps you give your spouse permission to be human. . . . It gives you the ability to hold on during the tough times in your relationship rather than bailing out under the pressure.”
And since we all agree that deployments can be “tough times,” patience is a one of those things that we need to practice right from the get-go.
So here’s the dare as quoted from the book: “The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It’s better to hold your tongue than to say something you’ll regret.” (p. 4)
Here is today’s dare during deployment: In email, phone, or letter—do not say or write anything critical or negative. Even if you are on the receiving end of a verbal attack, choose to be quiet.
Easier said than done? You bet—and that’s the challenge of it. But if for one day you can choose to demonstrate patience in your communications I believe that God will reward that act of obedience.
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. — Proverbs 14:29
A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. —Proverbs 15:18
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. —Ephesians 4:2
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. —Colossians 3:12-14
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)