Author’s note: If it weren’t for all of you, I would not be sharing this embarrassing little anecdote. You’ve been honest in sharing your struggles with the anger that keeps nipping at so many of our heels. So I’ll (sigh) try to do the same in hopes that at least one of our families is for the better! …
The other day we were more than late (again) for wherever we were going. I discovered long before that one of the best things I can do in controlling my anger problem is to allow a lot of extra time in my schedule, because running late is almost sure to inflame my ungodly little (big) temper. (Loving people well and pleasing people, as well as looking respectable, are my desires that morph Dr. Jekyll-like into demands at those points.) But I digress. I had allowed some degree of margin in my schedule, feeling like I was doing my part … until I walked into the room where my now-dressed children should be applying shoes to their wee toes.
But no! Instead, my ready-to-go self arrived to find two children pleasantly reading their library books wearing nary a stitch of clothing. Grrrrrr. And I was off — as in, the handle. Still grasping an ounce of self-control, I launched into something that I’m sure contained the words “What are you doing?! I am ready to walk out the door!” plus some extra shouting, along with some gritted teeth and vehement pointing at the neatly folded clothes on the floor.
That’s when my husband came in. He is often a great help in these situations, something it has taken me a few years to appreciate truly when I am so positive that I have a high degree of control over both myself and the situation. Yet at this point, his eyes grew wide in my direction — a surprise, since I thought I was doing pretty well. Well, not bad. “You are throwing a fit!” he mouthed.
Now, you may know by now that my husband is very often right, but rarely is he right at a time when I want him to be.
My hand flew out and my neck strained forward indicating the problem was the bare little bodies next to me! Hello! But no matter the excuses that caught in my throat, it was as I tell the children who were presently in the buff: you cannot control their actions, but you can control your reaction.
It was in this incident that a lot of things came together. See, I do believe that my voice is a tool. Shouting, which tends to be my tool turned weapon of choice, can be used to motivate my children, and sometimes should be. But when I picture Jesus if He were a parent — flawed and culture-laden picture as it may be in my own mind — I only picture him shouting when it was absolutely necessary to communicate that way. The God who tells me “… if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness …” (Galatians 6:1) probably wouldn’t choose to shout as often as I do.
I needed to be reined in. I sure didn’t want my kids raising their voices when they were angry, which they would do with even less self-control than I. And not only that, but controlling my voice tended to help me control my emotion rather than let it erupt all over the place.
So I’ve instituted a temporary rule for myself: no shouting because right now I don’t have the self-control to handle it correctly. Turns out it’s a habit, so I catch myself — a lot — and apologize to the kids. But that’s just it: by the grace of God, I’m catching it. Yahoo! One step closer to godly anger, the kind defined by love and peace. Because the problem, as it turns out is … me.
Want to catch up on my history with this?
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Janel Breitenstein graduated summa cum laude from John Brown University and began her career with NavPress, where she worked on The Message Bible. After having four children she resumed her professional career (around her momlife) by serving as a writer for FamilyLife. In January of 2012 Janel and her husband, John, packed up their family of six and moved to Uganda to serve with Engineering Ministries International (eMi), an organization that focuses on poverty relief and development, providing structural design and construction management for Christian organizations in the third world. Join us as we all learn first hand, through Janel’s posts, what it’s like to go from suburban America, to answer God’s call in Africa!