by Mike Patrick
A middle-aged woman visited with a counselor because of her depression. Joy in life had evaporated over time. She hated her job and had difficulty getting through the day. She started her morning with energy and feeling upbeat. However, it got worse by the hour.
The counselor thought that the way she lived her life at work might manifest itself the same way in other activities. He asked her, “What’s your favorite meal?” After she described the meal including chocolate cake, he asked, “What do you eat first?” She responded that she ate her dessert first. He then said, “Tell me how you eat your chocolate cake.” She said she always used her fork to scrape off the icing and ate it first.
She approached work the same way. She began the day with what she enjoyed the most and delayed unwanted tasks for last. Thus, her day became progressively worse as it went along. The counselor recommended that she use her morning energy to do the more unpleasant tasks, thereby making the day progressively better with the more enjoyable tasks.
The key: delayed gratification requires patience. It means I show a willingness to delay an immediate reward in order to have a greater reward later. This woman’s fun task at work and her chocolate cake in and of themselves remain the same, early or later. But by using patience, she also reduces the amount of depression in her life.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
Mike Patrick retired as Chaplain and Ministry Education Coordinator after 27 years at Hendrick Medical Center.