I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a very patient person. My husband should be the second, but he’s too gracious to ever admit what he and I both know to be true (and I love you for that, babe 😉 ). I’ve always admired an aunt of mine, whom I believe is one of the most patient people I’ve ever met. While I realize it must be a crafted skill and virtue that she has labored to achieve for many years, I still stand in awe of her interactions with others, especially her children, in moments of great stress. She is grace-filled, soft spoken (yet firm when necessary), and never seems to lose her cool.
I ain’t that good.
Patience is a virtue, that is true, and it’s one I’ll be striving for forever. I have noticed that my patience runs especially thin when my person is in certain strenuous conditions. You know the saying, “Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m.?”. Well, for me, nothing good ever happens if there are certain needs unmet in my heart, mind, body, or soul.
Therefore, it’s become necessary for me to evaluate these moments and to refrain from acting like an idiot because of them.
I call it The Power of H-A-L-T.
A few years ago, during Confession, I was relaying the above sentiments to a priest. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with myself for doing and saying things I shouldn’t, and making dumb decisions when I knew some key part of my self was … off.
He then gave me advice that I’ve tucked away the the corner of my heart and recall almost daily.
He let me in on the secret of H-A-L-T.
Be particularly watchful of yourself when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.
This golden nugget is so simple, right?
He encouraged me not to make decisions, small or large, when I am hungry, when I am angry, when I am lonely, or when I am tired. In those moments, I need to halt. I need to halt my mind and my mouth.
This concept is actually employed by many addiction support groups and rehabilitation centers. None of us make good decisions when our bodies and souls are lacking food, peace, companionship, and rest. We go a little bit crazy and we are much more likely to give into temptation, to do something we’ll regret, to be an ass.
So what should we do in moments of halt?
We dive into Scripture to recall the Truth.
We hit our knees and beg the Lord for His help in our frailty.
We refrain from making decisions; most of the time, they are small ones, but we should especially avoid the big ones during this time.
If we’re hungry, we pause and eat something that’s good for us. Not a donut, not that pint of ice cream, but something that will nourish our bodies and help us to think clearly.
If we’re angry, we pause and go for a run, splash cold water on our face, cry out our hot tears, or take a drive. Then, once we’ve cooled off, we seek the heart of the matter. We do not act until we have found the source of our anger and have invited God into those broken places.
If we’re lonely, we pause and ask for help. We humble ourselves to ask for extra attention from our spouse, we call a friend to chat, we visit our family. We soak up God’s Word in prayer and remind ourselves that although we may feel lonely, we are never truly alone.
If we’re tired, we pause and rest. We sleep on it. We take a nap. We recline for a moment in a hot bath or curl up on the couch. We rest our bodies, hearts, and minds so that we can make rational decisions.
When we’re H-A-L-T, we halt.
Although I do not live this out perfectly, it has become a welcomed guide in my daily life and has saved us from many pointless arguments and bad decisions.
And maybe, just maybe, it’s making me a bit more patient along the way 😉