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Praise for the 10-second rule

In the passages from the Gospel of John read during the fifth week of Lent, Jesus says several times something to this effect: “I am sent by my Father, I am taught by my Father,” and “do what you have heard from the Father.”

At the Sisters of Providence summer book sale, I picked up a small book entitled, “The 10-Second Rule,” which offers a pretty simple practice for “doing what we hear the Father tell us.”

The basic premise of the book is that we are continually being nudged or prompted by the Holy Spirit (Providence) to do something, usually what we might call a small, insignificant something – like calling someone on the phone or visiting someone in a nursing home or in the hospital or writing a note of encouragement or affirmation, or even being nudged to pray for someone.

The author, Clare DeGraff, maintains that daily Spirit prompts us to these small acts of kindness and that’s where the 10-Second Rule comes in. DeGraff, in other words, suggests acting on that impulse within 10 seconds, or immediately. If you are like I am, sometimes when I receive such a nudge, I start thinking of all the reasons I can’t do it then … I’m on my way someplace else; my laundry needs to be put in the dryer. I’m just too busy, maybe later. I suspect we all know those scripts! And, what happens? Nine times out of 10, I don’t do it – anytime that day or perhaps ever, thus missing the opportunity to do what the Spirit suggested. Practicing the 10-Second Rule can lead us in small, baby steps, perhaps, to hear the word of God and act upon it. And, of course, the author cautioned that the 10-Second Rule does not apply to major life-decisions, which require time, discernment and dialogue.

I decided that the 10-Second Rule was like a positive version of the old, familiar adage, “If you are angry, count to 10 before acting,” or, we might add, before you say that unkind word, or pass on that gossip, or complain about something.

Either way we use it – as positive nudges of the Spirit or to stifle negative quips and feelings, it might just be like the former Coca-Cola slogan – “The pause that refreshes!”

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Sister Ann Casper

Sister Ann Casper

Sister Ann Casper, SP, retired as the executive director for Mission Advancement for the Sisters of Providence in 2018 and currently serves as minister of Providence Community Cemetery at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. Sister Ann has ministered in various scholastic and administrative positions in Indiana and North Carolina. She also was a member of the Sisters of Providence leadership team, serving as General Secretary.

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  1. Avatar Bill Hughes on April 15, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Wise words, Sister Ann. Thank you!

  2. Avatar Jo Ann Peters on April 15, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    Love this, Sister Ann! As the years progress, those nudges become more persistent and this is a great reminder to act on the impulse. As a side note, I had never heard of the “10 second rule”, only the “5 second rule” which applies to food hitting the floor. In my case, the “5 second rule” only works if you don’t have a “2 second dog”!!!

    Thank you for the “nudge”!

  3. Avatar Rosaline Secrest on April 17, 2019 at 9:12 am

    Too often I read something online and think “I should let the author know how meaningful that is to me”. However I excuse myself by finding something which must be done immediately. Not this time. I am responding to a “nudge” to tell you I find your 10 second suggestion a very useful. Thank you, Sister Ann.

  4. Avatar Rosemary Schmid '63 on April 17, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Your 10-second rule immediately took effect, Sister Ann!
    I’m writing to say thank you for another reminder to pay attention to the commercials I am noticing on TV these days.
    A man and his financial advisor are talking about “retirement.” Instead of retirement, the advisor talks about – “what happens next.” (Or something like that.) AND, you have done that with this reflection – shared your wisdom as part of your “next” after “retirement.” My 10-second nudge was to pay attention (and tell you thank you!)

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