Step Five out of Angry: Times of Unique Stress
I went in for my every-three-and-a-half-months, I’ve-put-this-off-too-long, please-cut-my-hair-so-it-doesn’t-look-like-I’m-wearing-a-lampshade appointment at the hairdresser. I have a head full of decidedly curly, i.e. forgiving but frizzy hair, quickly becoming more frizzy and less forgiving. I believe the dialogue went something like this.
Hairstylist: Are you under a lot of stress?
Me: Um, well, yeah. Some.
Me, internal dialogue: Why are you saying some? The answer is DEFINITELY. Preparing for sell-what-you-can’t-pack garage sale + homeschooling three kids + moving four kids under seven to Africa + not going to bed when you should = stress. HEL-LOOOO. In a bit of denial, are we? What is the deal with you and the constant supermom job application to—everyone? Say “YES.”
Hairstylist: Well, I was wondering. I have never seen your hair fall out like this! It’s either stress or you need your thyroid levels tested.
Me, internal dialogue: ACK! Thyroid issues are in my family! I need to add a thyroid test to my to-do list now? I think I want to cry. So much stress that my hair is falling out? That makes me feel stressed.
So. Well. I’m…under a bit of stress. There is no supermom present here. If you find her, get her back here, because her house needs a good cleaning. Tell her to bring the garage sale pricing stickers and some lesson plans.
Unfortunately, I am definitely more susceptible to temptation with my anger problem. I’m not yelling so much as I am just so irritable. (And you’d better not agree with that assessment.)
Symptoms? Overreacting. Touchy. Cannot deal with children who pop out of bed for their third drink of water (Can they really be thirsty? If I did not sound selfish, I would snap, “This is my time! Go to bed!” As it is, I just snap, “Go to bed!”). Overreacting. Auditory hypersensitivity. (Please do not say “Mama.” At all. Please do not tap your fingernails on the table. Under no circumstances shriek a family member’s name.) Crying at weird times. Lack of energy to play with children or be funny or laugh at five-year-old-level jokes. Overreacting.
So here is what I am reminding myself in my clawing attempts to maintain self-control and a walk with the Holy Spirit.
- Sleep = patience, gentleness, self-control. Pretty much all of the fruits of the Spirit, actually. Sleep is not negotiable, Janel. I repeat: NOT negotiable.
- Pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” If Jesus prayed for protection from temptation, I definitely should, too.
- Spend time replenishing. I cannot think so highly of myself that I think I need no margin. My children feel my lack of margin. I should too—before it gets to the boiling point. This includes grace-filled rather than duty-driven time with God.
- Ask for forgiveness. Keep “short accounts” with my kids, asking for their forgiveness frequently. Pray for mommy’s irritability together. Let them know I’m struggling.
- Beyond what God is asking of me, no stress is worth the price of my family. ‘Nuff said. A less-than-perfect garage sale or PB & J’s for dinner are small sacrifices to have loved my kids well. Repeat after me: Just say “no.”
- Live by grace. Can’t let my frustration over my anger mess-ups (or any mess-ups) paralyze me because of my perfectionism and my pride. The idea is not to present God with my perfect record, by His strength or not. The idea is that Jesus has already earned everything for me, and He’s the Potter who’s got me in a process.
- Seek out joy furiously. Keep lists of things for which to be joyful. Joy in God changes the way I see the world, my family included.
- Remember He’s given me what I need—and not more than I can handle. If I need loving proof, I can revisit II Peter 1:3, Lamentations 3:22-24, and I Corinthians 10:12.
- Tell friends. Sounds ludicrous, I know. But James 5 says it well: “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” I did this after church this past Sunday, and I felt a great deal of freedom. It’s like the first of a 12-step program—admitting I have a problem.
I like the ways Galatians 6 puts it, too:
If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness…Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Anyone got more tips for dealing with stress in anger? Help! Please share!