A good friend coordinates our housing projects in South Africa when we travel on our annual mission trips. He always reminds me to “measure twice, cut once.” My impatience always wants to “measure correctly once and cut once,” but I’ve wasted some good lumber with that approach!
A few months ago I was wronged by a different, distant friend. My immediate reaction was to do just that: immediately react. When faced with a personal attack, I would typically pick up the phone to set the record straight, defending my position and pleading my case of how I was being treated unfairly. But I wouldn’t stop there; invariably I’d say something accusatory that I didn’t mean. My righteous indignation would usually end up in an apology from me, nullifying any justification for the unfair treatment.
This time was different. My good friend’s words from South Africa, “measure twice, cut once” echoed in my head, but this time they were transformed to: “think once, pray twice”.
First, I thought through the situation and it was still clear that I was being unfairly treated.
Next I prayed that my ego wouldn’t get the better of me, letting my human desire to be “right” cloud my actions. I prayed that I would see the situation from his perspective, “Why had he acted the way he did?” Placing myself in his shoes was helpful; his unfairness wasn’t really directed to me, but to the situation he found himself in.
Finally, I prayed again. This time for the wisdom to determine just how important the event was in my life. After twenty minutes of prayer, the answer was, “not very important.”
I didn’t pick up the phone to point out how unfair I was being treated. Instead, I sent a quick email to tell him that I “understood his actions and it was okay. I’d talk with him soon.”
Life has moved on. Six months later, the details of the actual event are a distant memory. All I remember is that I learned to “think once, pray twice.”
God has taught me to look at what is really important and forget the rest. No matter what difficult situation I face, I “think once and pray twice”.
Blessings, my friend,