Anger was there long before I recognized it. It took me by surprise when I finally noticed it. Perhaps if I had seen it sooner, it would have only been a small blemish. But because it had gone on for years, it was an iceberg. 90% of it was under the surface. Which makes it all the more challenging to see its existence. And even harder to uproot it from the heart.
It was quiet time. Little Bear napped while Plum played independently. At least that is how it is supposed to work. I sat in the living room writing at my computer and sipping coffee. Plum had gone upstairs, presumably to play in the playroom. The baby monitor sat at my side. I still had a good thirty minutes left of this solace. Then I heard the click.
The click of the door lock as it unlatched to the kids’ room where Little Bear was napping. Plum had opened the door. A moment later I heard Bear’s cries. The interrupted sleep would not be remedied. Quietude quickly slipped away. I was fuming.
She knew she had done wrong, and locked herself in my bedroom.
“I am angry at [the child], because I am angry at my own failures. I want this child to be the perfect human being that I somehow failed to become. It is shockingly easy to take my frustrations out of those who are under me. This is a matter of humility.” -For the Children’s Sake, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
During times of transition, I see myself unfiltered. My sin becomes exposed. My anger, my selfishness, my impatience. I can hide it well in front of others, and for years I never thought I battled with anger. Until marriage, I avoided conflict. I headed in the other direction or dodged saying what I thought because I wanted peace. With marriage and children, there is no avoiding it. And at each stage, before the new normal arrives and we’re comfortable in it, I get angry. I may not say it. I may not look it. But it is bubbling there. It is the internal fight between self-centered thinking and selfless serving.
It is a lesson I find myself having to relearn many times. The root of my anger is almost always about control. A challenge I am facing, an unexpected turn to my day, circumstances that I did not cause and did not want. My anger begins where my control stops. But what do I have control over (or should)? Myself. My responses. My words. My thoughts. My heart attitude. Oh what a battle that can be somedays! Anger itself is not sinful. It’s what I do with that anger. And oh, how many times I have failed.
“A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.” Proverbs 29:11
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Ephesians 4:26
I can act composed in front of other people. I have been called “a good mom,” “a good wife,” “a good person.” And the compliments boosted my pride…in myself. It speaks nothing of my constant need for Jesus. I am not discounting the appreciation for encouragement and recognition. But I am not inherently “good.” My capacity for good (for love) is certainly there, by the grace of God. My capacity for sin? For resentment, bitterness, jealousy, pride, and hatred? Well, those are the ones that are constantly waging war inside my heart. Instead of trusting in the Lord, I often seek to rely on myself.
It all boils down to this: I am a sinful person in desperate need of a sinless Savior. Every day.
“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
I can look calm and collected all I want, but if my heart is harboring hatred, it matters not. God is my audience, and He sees it all. And there is no good work I could ever do to bridge the gap that the chasm of my sin has made between God and me. It is only Christ, only by His love and His gift of salvation, that I am in relationship with God.
“For by grace you have been saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Eph 2:8-9
While forgiveness is available, there are still consequences for my sin. My harsh answers causes rifts in relationships, and I must go and seek reconciliation. My constant prayer is that my sinful behavior does not hinder others (my children especially) from coming to know and love the LORD. My constant prayer is that when others look at me, they will see a person redeemed by the love of Christ.
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11
Here I am, a repentant and redeemed sinner, clinging to the promises of God.