“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5
With my boys’ beds pushed up against the wall, they were inclined to just stand on the other side to make them. They’d stretch and contort, trying to get the job done as quickly as possible. They completely overlooked the fact that they could also stand at the foot of the bed to make it.
Consequently, when I was teaching them, I called the foot of the bed the “Position of Power.” It’s from that vantage point that they can see if things are even, smooth underneath, and if the middle seam of the bedspread lines up with the headboard. Moreover, if they practice throwing and “flying” the bed sheets and blankets from there, everything falls into place faster, and they save time.
They don’t always listen to me. But when they do work from this Position of Power, I can tell. There are less wrinkles and lumps in their beds; the lines are cleaner.
My husband recently asked me to be a sounding board for an issue he was facing. In a roundabout way, my advice to him was a lot like my bed making lesson.
In his situation, someone confronted him, via email, about the problems in their friendship. It caught him completely off guard: he had no idea half of the issues even existed. Although he’s a lot calmer than me, he felt the need to respond immediately, even if just to defend himself. He asked me what I would do.
My advice was to wait. Like my friend Liz says, “respond, don’t react.” Doing so requires time to process and sort out emotions.
When confronted, most of us react right away. But with our back up against a wall, we only see things from one perspective. Even worse, our vision is blurred by the heat of emotion.
Like how my kids used to make their beds, we stretch and contort to get the job done as quickly as possible. If we’re a “Pleaser,” we acquiesce and take full responsibility for the issue, whether we’re guilty or not. If we’re a “Fighter,” we strike back, even when we are guilty. Either reaction makes the situation messier. It throws more wrinkles into the equation, ones that will need to be ironed out later, making it take twice as long to reach a resolution.
Waiting is the Position of Power in relationships. It allows us to step back, cool off, and circle the issues to look at them from all sides. Like from the foot of the bed, that’s when we can see if things are all jumbled underneath, or if things line up.
I don’t mean to say that we should be in a position of power over the other person. I mean we need to be working from a Position of Power within ourselves, so our words and actions are inline with who we want to be.
If the other person has a good argument, our postponed apology will be more sincere and complete. If there’s more under the surface complicating the issue, we can pick and choose our words carefully to convey how we see things. Either way, we won’t regret our response because it will be true to who we are.
Waiting is hard. It requires a lot of patience. But as my Spiritual Director often reminds me, “Patience is the partner of wisdom.” If we want to learn and grow, and become wiser, we have to practice patience, while praying about it. Just like my kids had to practice making their beds, it really is the only way to improve.
Questions For Reflection:
* Am I someone who reacts immediately, with full emotion, when someone confronts me about an issue?
* What are the benefits of waiting, and praying about it, before I respond?