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!”