I was studying a Bible scripture where the advice is to treat others with “kindness, forbearance and patience.”
I’m familiar with kind and patient, but was iffy on forbearance. I looked it up in the dictionary.
To “forbear” is to treat others with patience “even when provoked.”
We deal with “provocative” circumstances all the time. People and circumstances arise that cause frustration, anger, irritation, vengeance and, maybe sometimes, violence.
A natural reaction to provocation is to react swiftly. We want to fight back. Correct immediately. Set the record right. Gain a pound of flesh. Make them pay.
To forbear means we stop and pause. It means we investigate before reacting. It means we plan a response rather than have one explode from us. It means we compare our current feeling with the ultimate consequence in context to a whole life’s experience and determine whether the explosion is worth the damage.
To forbear means that we stop to remember when we have benefited from the forbearance of others. What happened when others spoke softly or taught patiently or forgave a slight as compared to striking or yelling. Especially when yelling and striking were justified.
To forbear means that we stop to consider the damage done previously when forbearance was not the path taken. The hurt feelings, the times of regret, the broken relationships.
Forbearance is a strategy chosen in advance. A practice that is cultivated.
It is not ignoring sub optimal situations. It is not accepting an inferior way. It’s taking the high road. It’s bringing calm to a storm. It’s determining to be a considerate friend, relative and colleague.
One way to “happen to the world” is to happen differently when provoked. That’s forbearance.