This post is part of a continuing series. To read this series from the beginning please start with Love – An Introduction.
Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Triggers
Obviously, patience is not just for politics. I only began with the political stuff because that’s what motivated me to start studying the topic of love. But this Christian need for “enduring trials calmly without complaint” applies to almost every aspect of our social lives. As I said in the previous post on this topic, Love Is Patient: Part I, I believe that patience is the first word in the famous love list for a reason. I believe that patience breaks the cycle of emotional triggers that bring us all down.
I remember, while I was going through the divorce in early 2005, I learned about a form of therapy that deals with emotional triggers in a more immediate and practical way compared to traditional therapy. The idea is to either basically reprogram our responses to certain triggers or completely avoid them. Before I read about this new kind of therapy (I never became a patient – I just read about it), I had never thought of emotions as being attached to certain triggers that way. Once I learned about the triggers, I began to recognize them in my own life. I know that certain events will cause certain emotional responses in my behavior, some of them being so strong that I cannot make myself not react the way I do…even when I know what’s happening to me.
Imagine what happens when two or more people become victims to their own cycles of emotional triggers. Often times, in our relationships, the things we do in response to one of our triggers cause us to trigger certain reactions from our neighbors. This is what I mean when I say it is a cyclic problem. If my behavior in response to an emotional trigger actually becomes an emotional trigger that causes you to do more of what triggered my behavior, the obvious result is an escalating emotional tempest.
Love is patient breaks that cycle and calms the tempest. When we are patient and dedicate ourselves to enduring abuses, adversity and trials, it stops the cycle by preventing us from continuing the kind of behavior that triggers emotional responses in our neighbors.
It’s Not Easy
Living as a patient person is not easy. It often feels like you are a human punching bag. It feels degrading. It makes us feel small and worthless when we let people say and do things that hurt us, while we do nothing to defend or justify ourselves.
But we are justified in Christ!
Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
Being justified in Christ is a common topic that gets preached and studied fairly regularly. It is a cornerstone principle of Christianity. But I would like to look at this justification in a slightly different context. Instead of looking only at the price that was paid for our sins, I would like to encourage you to hold Christ up in your life as an example of patience.
Jesus Christ as an Example of Patience
The most obvious example of our Lord’s patience was his torture and crucifixion for our sakes. Jesus was a sinless man who did not deserve the punishment he received. Remember the story, He was found innocent of the charges:
“You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. In deed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.” ( Luke 22:65-23:26)
Jesus wasn’t just crucified. He was tortured and mocked. He endured as a sinless man hardship far beyond what you and I can possibly imagine. This divine example of patience is certainly the most obvious example, but there is a more personal example that touches my heart a little deeper than the story of his crucifixion. It stings my conscience to know that I too have caused Him to exercise patience. Our Lord and Savior has endured my behavior in a loving and patient way.
To me, that hits a lot closer to home. How do you feel about it? You know the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. You know he died on the cross for your salvation. He paid the price for your sins. How does it make you feel to know that each day He continues to endure your neglect? Every time you chose selfishness over love, Jesus endures it calmly and without complaint.
I can think of no better example of patience. All of us who call ourselves Christian should strive to be just as patient as Jesus.