A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.
~Proverbs 15:18 NLT
“I’d like to take ya’ll to lunch. Would that be okay?” I had no idea I was about to get a lesson in keeping cool.
When the email invitation arrived, I felt excitement creep over me. I enjoyed our In-Service day since I needed time to catch up on grading papers and do a few other writing projects. But since we only had a few parent-teacher conferences scheduled, the day was beginning to drag. I quickly accepted—as did all the other teachers.
But when her next email told me where she planned to take us, my anticipation drained. I had only eaten at this restaurant a few times. Although the food was good, the service was beyond slow. Knowing we had to be back in two hours for a conference—and realizing I had more work to do—my nervousness kicked in.
As we walked into the restaurant, I noticed only a few customers sitting at tables. Ahead of us stood one couple—languishing at the register as the cashier took their order, a task that took her five minutes. Anxiety stepped on my back. Finally, our turn came. We ordered in succession and then chose a table. The cashier gave us no drinks, something they normally do. My nervousness grew.
The time passed quickly as we talked about school and life events. But after thirty minutes with no food, I suggested our lead teacher check on our order. She stood in the line—a line that fluctuated as some walked out because of the slow service. When she encountered a man who had also been waiting thirty minutes for his order, she decided she wouldn’t ask about our food after all.
We talked another fifteen minutes, and again, I suggested she check on our food. We had waited almost an hour and would not have time to eat and get back to our conference if we didn’t get our food pronto. She got no explanation, but our food did begin to arrive—in stages. And did I mention this was a soup and sandwich shop. How long does it take to prepare a cup of soup and half of a sandwich? I never had, but I imagined I could have done it quicker.
I’d like to say I kept my cool during this anxiety-producing episode. And I did do a better job than I had in the past. But as I thought about all I could have been doing back at school, and as I worried about being late for our appointment, my patience ran low and my anxiety high. Naturally, I didn’t enjoy my food since I had to gulp it down.
In years past, I would have approached the manager with an attitude and perhaps a few choice words. This time I kept my mouth shut—as the writer of Proverbs suggests. Doing so isn’t easy since it goes against my natural bent to get things done in a timely manner. Patience is a virtue—and one that takes a long time . . . even years . . . for some to develop. Me included.
God helped me keep my mouth closed that day. Oh, my peers and I expressed our frustrations at the table, but we left them there. We knew our witness for Christ would have suffered had we chosen to make a scene.
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.
~Psalm 37:7 NLT
God knows our personalities—whether we are naturally patient or struggle to be. When in situations where we want to react in ways that would not please Him, He can help us keep our cool and preserve our good name—and His.
Let God teach you how to be patient in situations where your patience has run out.
What are some patience-building techniques you can practice?
Father, teach me to wait on Your time schedule, not mine, and to act in a way that glorifies You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Copyright 2023: Keeping Cool: Martin Wiles: All Rights Reserved