I was driving home from prayer service Saturday, almost home. I was in a very peaceful place, at least I thought I was. Then it happened. Someone driving a very large SUV entered the roadway through a yield– but did not yield. She started coming into my lane, very quickly. I immediately hit the brakes, laid on the horn, and well, patience was lost. Because I stopped, I signaled for her to go in front of me, thinking she was in such a hurry. When we met at the stoplight, she said she was so sorry, she didn’t mean to cut me off. By then I had composed myself again, and told her it was okay, but to please be careful so that she reached her destination safely.

I continued on my way home. At this point, I was only a half mile away. By the time I got home, it was out of my mind. I hadn’t thought of it until later in the week when someone else almost cut me off. This time I just hit the brakes and let them go on their merry way.

Why am I relaying this to you? As I practice the character trait of patience, in Hebrew savlanut, I am discovering more of the triggers that allow me to wander away from being patient, either with myself or others.

Our current nation’s climate makes it easy for us to be impatient. Watching the news has been a real test. Can I watch and listen without immediately reacting in ways that take me away from a place of patience to a place of irritability. What good does it do? What positive outcome can I expect of myself if I cannot control my reactions?

I want to be a better person. I take this seriously. I am always working on one of my character traits. I spend time discovering what triggers me, both positively and negatively. I try hard to praise myself for the moments that I do extremely well and try to allow the missteps when they happen. That doesn’t mean I let them go. No. I recognize when I react, try to find out why, and how can I move past it. How can I learn from the missteps without letting the lessons move me backwards in my development?

We all have triggers that take us away from being a patience, kind person. These triggers are sometimes so blatant that it is hard to avoid reacting. But if we work on how we react, how we respond to rudeness, road rage, intolerance, negative conversations, hateful words and actions, the day to day interactions that pull at our emotions…. Well. What kind of person would you be, would I be, would they be? If we start by taking a deep breath and rethinking our response before we respond, could we make a difference. The difference may not be understood by the other, but, wow, it could make all the difference in how we feel about ourselves.

As I said, I am working on patience. Hopefully, this work will enhance the way I deal with all that I come in contact with in my daily travels.

Contact the author at rebtova@rebtova.org