Three life incidents gave me an idea of what forbearance means; I will leave the first for last. The second incident happened about 10 years ago when my wife was learning to drive a car. She had been working with an instructor and each time I came home, she would tell me how good she had become in driving. Apparently, she had taken the car to the expressway and got confident that she had become a good driver.
Then one Sunday morning, I asked her to drive us to church. Hmmm, it was a disaster (lol). I hope she is not reading this (lol); my wife drove in the middle of the road, we occupied two lanes while impatient drivers honked heavily at us.
I was so disappointed at her driving that I said some things out of anger which I should not have said. Both of us buried our hatchets afterwards; my wife completed her driving lessons after months of trainings and became a licenced driver; but she avoided driving whenever I was in the car.
The third incident happened in the US. Six years after the second incident, we were in the US and had to hire a car. I drove the family around for some time until I was going to leave town for some months. A day before I left the US, I asked my wife to drive me to the mall; she hesitated.
After much persuasion, she obliged. As we drove to the mall, I noticed she was a bit nervous and my presence in the car made her driving uncomfortable. She criss-crossed lanes a couple of times and my bad, I criticised her again.
As I relaxed into my seat on the plane, the first incident came back to my memory. It happened about 5 years before the second incident. I had recently got a job and I was asked if I could drive; I said yes. I did a crash driving lesson, perfected my acts and got my licence.
The company sent me to another state to work with a more senior guy. The gentleman used to complain bitterly about my driving skills; he would wonder why the company would send someone like me to their biggest branch office. Initially, he was fearful for his job; he thought I was sent there to take over from him. His criticism was brutal sometimes.
I remember the first time I had to drive the car with him. It was a small truck with manual transmission; out of nervousness, I had serious trouble changing from Gear-2 to Gear-3. Sometimes, I would also drive in the middle of the road; other road users would honk and that made me more nervous. The apprehension fizzled away quickly though but the memories and criticisms stuck.
As I reflected on the issues from the first incident, it dawned on me that I had been doing to my wife the same exact thing I hated when another fellow did it to me. Sometimes, if we are not careful, the scar of our previous wounds may still be so fresh that it stains our loved ones inadvertently.
Forbearance is defined as patient self-control, restraint and tolerance. It applies to everyone and to all spheres of life. Your lack of restraint in criticising others may adversely affect them in ways beyond your imaginations. There is an African adage that says “when cutting a tree with a machete, consider the pain you are inflicting on the tree”. Whenever we feel the urge to criticise or we feel a burst of anger, remember to word “Tolerance” and “Forbearance”.