mom’s three minute rule

Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need… Philippians 4:6

How many times on any given day are you tempted to lose your patience? If you’re like me, the answer is plenty. Next time a petty problem causes you to unravel, I challenge you to pause. Try to wait for three minutes before you allow yourself to become anxious. Time yourself if necessary, but stay calm. Just for three minutes. Then see what happens. I’m amazed at how many of life’s little whirlwinds clear up in three minutes! My kids have come to call this “Mom’s three minute rule.”

It’s the minor irritations that quickly steal our joy. It’s the “little foxes,” marriage counselors will tell you, that nibble away at our marriages. And it’s the trifling annoyances that rob our daily calm.

What if we stood up to the enemy and said, “No! I will not surrender my peace of mind.” I may not be able to keep my cool forever, but surely I can wait for three minutes. Especially if I remember to turn the matter over to God through prayer. Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you, we’re reminded in 1 Peter 5:7. But casting your anxieties, I’ve learned, takes a bit of spiritual muscle. 

Daily life gives me plenty of chances to practice. That incredibly long line at the register. The traffic light that takes forever to change when I am already late for that appointment. Lost keys. Or my irresistible urge to snap at my husband or children. Could I wait just three minutes before I react? And breathe a quick prayer for God’s peace? So much the better.

Those we love are watching to see how we navigate life’s inevitable anxieties. I was reminded of this once when driving our youngest child across town to a birthday party. We were running late. Of course I hit every stop light. Then, just as things were looking up, I got stuck at a railroad crossing.  I was exasperated by this ridiculously long train. My impatience showed. “Hey mom,” quipped my son. “What happened to your three minute rule?” Yikes…I stopped. Took a deep breath and said, “OK, let’s time this train, (Mr. Smarty Pants).” And so we did. And you know what? The train took forever, or so it seemed. But just as the caboose whooshed by, the three minute mark passed on my dash board clock. Exactly. Three minutes to the second.

Next time you feel your blood boil, take a deep breath. Think. Pray. Respond, don’t react. And wait three minutes. Guard your heart…and your peace. And save all that energy for the really big battles in life.


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