Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. — Proverbs 16:32 (NLT)
I really appreciate the authors’ definition of “irritable” in Day 6 of The Love Dare. They write, “People who are irritable are locked, loaded, and ready to overreact.” (p. 26) Then they complete the chapter with a good analysis of what can bring us to that point—one of those factors being stress. But deployment is spelled s—t—r—e—s—s! Right? So does that give us an “easy out”? Since we’re under stress because of the wartime separation, we can justify being irritable??
Not so fast—as the authors get more specific and actually say that there are different kinds of stress that can bring on crankiness (is that a better word for it?). The bottom line is that they want to encourage us to put margin into our schedule so we can better prioritize and pace ourselves. Well . . . . with deployment it’s kinda’ hard to manage the pressure we’re under with better discipline of our schedule!! It’s a great concept, though, so we want to look at it creatively during the dare.
The other factor they write about is selfishness. That pesky word keeps coming up!! Here’s exactly how they word it, “When you’re irritable, the heart of the problem is primarily a problem of the heart. . . .Being easily angered is an indicator that a hidden area of selfishness or insecurity is present where love is supposed to rule.” (p. 27, 28) They continue on and say that selfishness can show itself as lust, bitterness, greed, and pride. “These motivations can never be satisfied. But when love enters your heart, it calms you down and inspires you to quit focusing on yourself. It loosens your grasp and helps you let go of unnecessary things.” (p. 28)
In summary, the Kendricks want us to approach this battle against irritability from the two fronts of stress and selfishness: (1) Stress–The Love Dare challenges the participant to make a list of areas where you need to add margin to your schedule. But chances are strong that you have little control over your schedule. Here are some questions for you to evaluate: What are you doing with the down time that you do have? Are you using it to build a loving marital relationship with constructive efforts at communication and responsible actions? Or are you wasting that time, perhaps ignoring good chances for communication with your spouse or choosing irresponsible behavior? (2) Selfishness–The Love Dare is emphatic that we make a list of any wrong motives that we need to release—those things that are underlying selfish behavior (lust, bitterness, greed, pride).
Here is today’s dare during deployment: (1) Make a list of things you can do to improve your use of any quiet moments you might have. (2) Pick a time when you have recently overreacted. What was the real motivation behind that? What one thing could you do to take a step away from selfishness and towards forgiveness, gratitude, or contentment?
Here are Scriptures to encourage you in truth:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. — James 4:1-3
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:6, 7
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. — Ephesians 4:31, 32
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. — 1 Timothy 6:10
All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. — Proverbs 16:2
Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)