Self Control – Learning How to Wait


“Brown Thrasher” 20 x 16 acrylic on canvas; painting overlaps on barn-wood frame.

There’s an adage that says “Be careful what you wish for.” Conversely, there’s another one for believers: “Be careful what you pray for.”

As the mother of six children, I was constantly on my knees praying for patience. The Lord took me at my word and gave me strong-willed children, a critical spouse, and many opportunities to serve my church and community. In the process, I gained the skills I needed to serve my family and my God better.

Of course, the road was bumpy and difficult. I discovered my dependence on God for strength, and I learned how to wait for the things that I wanted.

Berry Picking Time 16 x 20 oil on canvas

“Berry Picking Time” 16 x 20 oil on canvas

If you think it’s easier to indulge your physical and emotional urges and let the “chips fall where they may,” you’re wrong. If that’s how you operate, you’re the one being controlled because you’re constantly at the beck and call of your passions and desires. You couldn’t stop even if you wanted to.

Once you cross the line from choice to addiction, your life becomes a living hell. You’re no longer cool and attractive because you’re no longer in control. It is much harder to break a habit than to shape constructive behavior.

On average, it takes 30 days to form a new habit and at least twice that long to break a bad one. But if you replace a destructive habit with a good one, you will heal in the process.

Whether it’s a craving for food or a sexual addition, all appetites and passions are difficult to break. If you gain two pounds every Christmas, and you don’t take that weight off, in twenty years you’ll have 40 pounds of excess fat. What if the amount you gain every year is five pounds, or ten? Is it really worth giving in?

Looking Outward (16 x 20) acrylic; frame: Old Window

Looking Outward (16 x 20) acrylic; frame: Old Window

Our government has self-indulged to the tune of almost $20 trillion dollars. Politicians are continually being “found out” for seeking prostitutes or taking bribes. Where did this lack of integrity come from? How did this unwillingness to take ownership and responsibility for one’s actions become so commonplace? It starts in the home and it begins in childhood.

Self-gratification always has a price either in divorce, disease, addiction and ill health, or in the downfall of success, prestige, and integrity. We have seen it across the nation in the lives of the rich and famous whose weaknesses are exposed in the finality of death

We should show our children the principles of self-control and integrity by example. We should teach them to wait for fulfillment instead of giving them what they want the minute they whine or throw a tantrum. We should help them learn how to plan and to save, so they may experience the joy of earning what they want.

Helping our children experience “delayed gratification” will increase their willpower, teach them how to save money, and how to endure when it comes to their own future education, marriage and parenting.

Today I see my personal struggle to overcome as an advantage and blessing. Instead of running up my credit cards, I have learned to sit back, reassess my needs and wants, and wait for the right item at a price I can afford. Instead of fretting over what I don’t have, I simply make a list, plan and adjust my budget, and watch for the right opportunity.

A friend helped me shop for a much-needed chest. She fretted for me. She urged me to make a decision and just buy one that she thought was appropriate for my bathroom; but I dug in my heels. I needed the drawer space for towels, but I was willing to wait for the right one.

It took me three years to finally buy the piece I wanted. It was the perfect fit! I didn’t have to move or alter the position of the wall art. Its size required no changes whatsoever between the door on the right or the towel rack on the left. The chest slipped easily under the large mirror hanging on the wall. I found exactly what I wanted at a price I could afford.

Peace Plant

Peace Plant

This “patience thing” has put materialism where it belongs: somewhere down there with “things,” and well below my priorities of God, family, church, community.

I admit I once was a “hot head.” But the Lord helped me count to ten, and then to 50 as I tried to weigh my words. We could use a little more self-control in our out-of-control-world. Road rage, shootings, stabbings, mob violence and destruction have never been higher. We can’t always control others, but at least we should be able to control ourselves.

What do you get in return for your self-denial and patience?   A peaceful center from which to deal with others. Your anxiety and worry will melt away as you stand fast on your convictions and beliefs. Self-confidence will replace doubts. I tell you from my own experience, the pay-off is well worth the effort.

What can Jelly Beans teach us about Life?

Popeye & Olive Oyl Salt 'n Pepper Shakers CLICK to PRICE

Popeye & Olive Oyl
Salt ‘n Pepper Shakers — CLICK ON PHOTO TO PRICE

Jelly beans (or jellybeans) have always intrigued me. Why is this sugary candy so popular after all these years; over one hundred, to be exact, in spite of the fact that they’re made out of cornstarch, the #1 enemy of most health food purists.

According to Wickipedia, “most jelly beans are sold as an assortment of around eight different flavors, most of them fruit based. Assortments of “spiced” jellybeans and gumdrops are also available, which include a similar number of spice and mint flavors. The colors of jelly beans often correspond with a fruit and a “spiced” flavor.

I love jelly beans!

I love jelly beans!

Some premium brands, such as Jelly Belly and The Jelly Bean Factory, are available in many different flavors, including berry, tropical fruit, soft drink, popcorn, licorice, and novelty ranges, in addition to the familiar fruit and spice flavors. A version of the Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans from the Harry Potter series was made commercially available and included flavors described as earwax, dirt, pepper, and vomit.” Eeeoooow!

Patriotic Jellies

Patriotic Jellies

Why do I like jelly beans?

They come in different flavors. They remind me that people also are unique and varied. We don’t all have to be alike. We don’t have to conform. We don’t have to play follow-the-leader, but can think for ourselves. Each of us can be enjoyed and cherished for who we are. Peer pressure is a way for unimaginative people to manipulate others into being the same. Don’t buy into it! Be an original. Learn from others, but create your own style. Walk confidently to the tune of your own dancing heart.

Each flavor is an acquired taste. Difficult or unusual things often require more time and effort to appreciate. Enjoyment comes from the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve overcome a challenge or learned a new skill. Being willing to try something new, especially something that will improve your life or a future career is not for the faint of heart. Acquired knowledge is a sign of good taste.

Jelly beans come in many different Colors. Jelly bean enthusiasts are experts in diversity. The candy’s wide range of color gives us opportunity to choose, to admire, and to appreciate the entire chromatic spectrum. Color enlivens us and quenches our visual appetite for variety. Colorful foods whet the taste buds. We should embrace color in whatever form it takes even in people. Our Creator placed people-of-color on the earth, therefore, color is beautiful.

Jelly beans make me Cheerful. How can you not feel like you’re living the good life when a sweet fizz of flavor dissolves on your tongue so deliciously? How can you complain about a dark and sorry world while savoring the jelly bean’s tantalizing sweetness?

Instead of banning them from our diets, maybe we should encourage the eating of jelly beans every day for health the way we do for apples? Who knows, maybe road rage would decrease? We could share them with our friends and divert our enemies. President Ronald Reagan had a jar of jelly beans on his desk. I suspect it was harder for others to yell at him while they had their mouths full of scrumptious succulence. Make your dentist happy! Eat more Jelly beans.

Jelly bean jar

Jelly bean jar

Jelly bellies and beans should be eaten slowly. They’re soft spongy texture reminds me to relish the moment; to “look before I leap,” and to think about the consequences of my actions. If I crossed the street without looking or I only did what I wanted without thinking, how precarious life would seem. Slow down. Chew. Think about things before you do them. Weigh the options. Consider the results. Is life “all about me” or will others be effected? Chew. Meditate. Chew again and then chew some more.

Are jelly beans too much of a good thing? When you’re slurping down your third handful, remember the corn syrup. Remind yourself that moderation is a good thing. Ingesting too many sweets may cause cavities, indigestion, and weight gain. Jellybeans were made small so you could delight in each tidbit of flavor without gorging yourself. Gluttony was never the intent. Managing your jelly bean consumption says a whole lot about your self-control and restraint. “Bet you can’t eat just one;” but if you can, you’ve earned the right to have a jelly bean jar on your desk!

Pair of Popeye twister dolls

Pair of Popeye twister dolls — CLICK ON PHOTO TO PRICE