by Laura Bailey
“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9 (ESV)
I am a natural redhead.
Yes, the stereotypes apply to me. Quick temper? Check! Fiery tongue? Check! Rousing this poked bear is risky — at any given point I might bubble over with excitement or boil with rage.
When voted “most outspoken” my senior year of high school, I wore my brash and brazen verbal reputation as a badge of honor, saying practically anything I wanted — at any time I wanted. I actually considered it my prerogative.
Oh, the follies of youth.
King Solomon knew about immature, foolish conduct and its consequences. At a young age, he asked God to give him a wise and discerning heart (1 Kings 3:9) — a request God granted. Although the Bible refers to him as wise (1 Kings 4:30), Solomon engaged in unwise behavior throughout his life. Nonetheless, he wrote Ecclesiastes, rich in advice and application.
While navigating my way through this book, the Lord pierced my heart. Lingering on our key verse in Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools,” I felt the familiar weight of conviction.
Circumstances, instead of a good conscience, long dictated my response to whatever or whoever was around me. The idea to just “let live and let go” never crossed my mind. Instead, I spouted whatever popped into my head, ignoring the impact my words had on others and the damage they were to my testimony. I needed and wanted to change.
It wasn’t until I began to “P.A.U.S.E.” that my relationships gradually improved, and the chains of hostility that bound my heart began to fall away.
What does it mean to “P.A.U.S.E.”?
Patience does not come naturally for most; we want what we want, and we want it yesterday. Waiting a few moments to react and remaining patient throughout an encounter can prevent a lifetime of regret.
Adjust our Attitude
A shift in perspective or change in attitude makes a world of difference in how we approach a situation. Instead of fists up, let’s open up and be willing to extend the olive branch now and again. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control our response.
Understand the Situation
Shamefully, I have frequently inserted myself into situations without knowing all the facts. Before pouncing on a perceived injustice, we must examine all the angles, evaluate the facts, and sift out opinions and assumptions from the truth of the matter. Doing so diffuses potentially explosive speech that causes unnecessary offenses.
Going outdoors works wonders; it immediately lifts my mood. Fresh air is like a balm that soothes my tumultuous temper. Perhaps stepping outdoors is not always an option, but try to remove yourself from the situation. A physical step back often provides mental clarity and emotional stability.
Unfortunately, during conflict, rational thought frequently succumbs to negative emotion, making it difficult to form an appropriate response. Take time to calm down while employing the aforementioned strategies, and above all, invite the Holy Spirit into the conversation.
Running through these five steps, even if it’s only one, helps me dial back my emotions and adjust my attitude before I say something I’ll regret.
I confess that because of pride and arrogance, I’ve inserted unwelcomed opinions and insisted on having the last word, severing many relationships as a result. I no longer want to be that person. Instead, I strive to be a woman filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit in all circumstances.
The world watches Christians. Our attitude must reflect Christ, not our culture or the one who has offended us. Next time you find yourself in a situation where tensions are high, tempers are hot and tongues are heated, consider a “P.A.U.S.E.”
Heavenly Father, help us to “P.A.U.S.E.” before reacting. Help us to rein in our tempers and relinquish our pride so we speak words of love and peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.