Patience in relationships avoids chaos

Posted: Friday, May 28, 2010

Remember the great movie, Jurassic Park? It helped popularize the science of non-linear dynamics, commonly called Chaos Theory. It is the idea that one and one do not always add up to two. In non-linear relationships, little things do not add at all: they multiply and quickly grow out of proportion. So, for example, we still do not understand why one breeze dies out over the ocean and another grows and multiplies into a hurricane of devastating force. But, as Ernest Zebrowski, Jr., writes in "Perils of a Restless Planet," we do know that the starting breeze may be as small as the beating of a butterfly's wings. He asks, "Could a butterfly in a West African rain forest, by flitting to the left of a tree rather than to the right, possibly set into motion a chain of events that escalates into a hurricane striking coastal South Carolina a few weeks later?"

Non-linear, or chaotic relationships, suggest that sometimes the smallest things can have major impacts.

People sometimes live in chaotic relationships, where the smallest things can quickly escalate into anger and devastated hearts. One author writes about how divorce can result simply from a wife's trip to the grocery store in which she forgets to buy a bar of soap. It is a small thing like the beating of a butterfly's wings but it stirs up looks, words, resentment and eventually a storm-struck wasteland. That's what happens in a chaotic relationship.

But it is not so in linear relationships, or what the Bible calls loving relationships. In those types of relationships one and one do add up to two. When the wife forgets to buy soap, she simply says "Sorry."

The husband replies "No problem," and even gets up off the couch to go buy the soap himself. It is one incident, minor and quickly forgotten.

What is the key to this kind of loving relationship? It can be stated in one word: Patience. In the Bible's great chapter on love, I Corinthians 13, patience is the first word used to describe love. And listen to this proverb from the Bible: "A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel." Proverbs 15:18.

Get angry quickly and you can stir up a hurricane. Show patience and the beginning breeze quickly dissipates.

And patience handles one of the most common causes of quarrels: misunderstandings. Maybe you didn't give me a dirty look; maybe you simply had something in your eye. Patience will calm that storm before it starts. Perhaps you didn't snub me in the hallway; perhaps you didn't see me. Patience will not allow that tropical depression to build. In a myriad of ways, patience deals with misunderstandings with a calming force that leads to sunny days and calm nights.

Need to leave the storms behind and simply sit with the person you love, enjoying a peaceful sunset? Try one of the strongest ingredients of love: Patience.

Rick Cupp is minister at Kenai Fellowship. Sunday Bible classes for all ages, 10 a.m.; worship, 11:15 a.m.; Wednesday worship and Bible classes for all ages, 7 p.m.

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