Respectable Sins: Impatience and Irritability

Okay admit it:  you were impatient with my late posting of my reflections on chapter 14 from Respectable Sins. Well, maybe not.

Impatience and Irritability are the topics of this chapter and this topic hit home for me again.  Impatience is defined “as a strong sense of annoyance at the (usually) unintentional faults and failures of others” (116).  And irritability “describes the frequency of impatience, or the ease which a person can becomes impatient over the slightest provocation” (118).  I must confess, even right after (I mean within minutes) reading this chapter I found myself expressing impatience with my son’s slowness to pick a book from the library and with a driver in front of me on the way home.  And these were two areas that Bridges used as illustrations!  This is one reason I don’t sport any kind of Christian symbolism on my car – I don’t my impatient driving identified with Christ.  And yet, Bridges reminds us through Scripture that patience is a virtue to be cultivated.

Also, he reminds us that other people (our children, our spouse, the poor or slow driver in front of us, etc…) is not our problem.  They are not the cause of our impatience.  “They merely provide an opportunity for the flesh to assert itself.  The actual cause of our impatience lies within our hearts, in our own attitude of insisting that others around us conform to our expectations” (117).  This to me may be more important for us to learn than anything else, except for the Scriptural teaching on patience/impatience.  I need to see myself as the problem, not someone else.  This is the challenge we face as we consider our own impatience and irritability – we are always focused on how we have been “wronged” by another.

If you really want to know then do as Bridges encourages:  ask a spouse, an older child, or a friend to help you identify areas of impatience in your life.  Just don’t get angry when they tell you the truth (that’s covered in the next chapter).


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