“Choosing life instead of death demands an act of will that often contradicts our impulses. Our impulses want to take revenge, while our wills want to offer forgiveness. Our impulses push us to an immediate response: When someone hits us in the face, we impulsively want to hit back. How then can we let our wills dominate our impulses? The key word is wait. Whatever happens, we must put some space between the hostile act directed toward us and our response. We must distance ourselves, take time to think, talk it over with friends, and wait until we are ready to respond in a life-giving way. Impulsive responses allow evil to master us, something we always will regret. But a well thought-through response will help us to "master evil with good" (Romans 12.21).”
- Henri Nouwen.
In his wonderful little book Writing in the Dust, Rowan Williams reflects on the same sentiment. We need to find ways to try to "hold the moment"; to create a "breathing space" - to sit with the pain, with the impulses, with the feelings; to face into them, to listen to them, and to wrestle with them "long enough for some of our demons to walk away." (p.78).