“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20 (ESV)
I have been so angry lately. At my husband Jax, the kids, my friends…
I have always had a short temper. I remember one time in school when a friend ticked me off, someone asked what my problem was and my friend said, “don’t worry…that’s just Nicole.”
Which, oddly enough, didn’t make me mad! I took pride in that fact and practically wore it around like a badge… the yes-I-have-a-short-fuse-so-you-had-better-not-mess-with-me badge. But once I’m mad? Oh, just leave me alone for a little while to cool down and I’ll be fine. I have even told people that! It was just who I was – there was no changing it, just deal with it.
My Dad had a short fuse, I have a short fuse.
As I got older and settled into a career, I never really thought much of my temper. There weren’t a lot of times I found myself really angry and if I did, it was in a setting where losing your temper was just unprofessional.
But when I got married and started having kids…
well, there’s another story.
I have been a Christian now for nearly 20 years and although I have heard the verses:
“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.”
Proverbs 15:18 (NASB)
“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.”
Proverbs 14:29 (NLT)
“A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.” Proverbs 12:16 (NLT)
“A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back.” Proverbs 29:11 (NASB)
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Proverbs 19:11 (ESV)
and all of them resonated with me. Clearly I was that fool, and I swore I would memorize those verses and make a change. Then three seconds later…
A friend of mine, a wonderful, sweet, Godly, gentle, woman shared her story with me. She had a terrible temper and yelled at her husband and her kids often, but once she came to know Christ it all changed.
God, in His power, removed that from her. Once she was filled with the Spirit, she immediately stopped acting out of anger. She is one of the kindest, gentlest women I know and I can’t even imagine her raising her voice! But even as I heard her story, I thought…
“Huh. Well, that certainly hasn’t happen to me.”
I’d like to say that I felt my anger was justified, that my anger is ok…but I know that’s not true.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
As I have read, learned and studied this verse, what I have noticed is that so many of these Godly characteristics have eluded me. I have so longed for many of them and are, in fact, the distinguishing traits in others that I admire and envy most.
Gees, I am sinning all over the place here!!
I have loved this verse so much that I made a point to memorize it and teach it to my children. I knew I needed to learn how God fingerprints us and how His Spirit changes us. Hoping, that as I wallpaper my mind with this verse, it would help me be more like Christ — that just knowing these fruit of the Spirit might rub off on me somehow.
I am afraid I am one big fruit mess.
But as I mentioned, recently I have been feeling so much more unappreciated, that my husband and children don’t care and clearly don’t know me… that I am only here to serve them and when is it my turn?!!
Little things have been setting me off over the past few months and I am becoming more and more angry, resentful and lashing out.
Last night I got angry over an expectation of things getting done around the house while I was gone that, of course, didn’t get done and I lost it. I was done. I didn’t even want to talk about it because what was the point? So I went to bed.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” Ephesians 4:26 (ESV)
When I woke this morning I had totally forgotten what I was so angry about until I realized that I don’t even think I said goodnight to Jax.
I immediately thought to myself: “Oooh! That worked pretty well! So this is what I need to do…no fight, no lost temper… Just don’t deal with it, go to bed and it will be all good in the morning! Cool. That is so much easier!!”
But that is so entirely not God’s plan! You see, it’s the small details that matter. Ephesians 4:26 continues…
“and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4:27 (ESV)
God brought to mind, in the middle of my not really liking my husband so much, what might happen if that was the road I chose. He allowed me to see a very clear picture of how our life would continue, how things would get worse and worse until that breaking point when we wouldn’t know each other any more, or we would hate each other and stay married, or worse.
I found myself, right then, at a crossroads.
I grabbed my Bible and started reading through the Genesis account, yet again, and re-read the story of Cain when this verse stopped me…
“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.'” Genesis 4:6-7 (NIV)
Praise God how He works in our lives!!
I must take control of my anger and change my responses. And instead of seeking fulfillment from such sinful creatures as my husband and kids, I need to find my satisfaction and fulfillment from the only One who can provide it! What kind of example am I to my kids when I allow sin to rule over me?
This needs to stop now.
No, I don’t want to tell Jax that I’m sorry. At all! I don’t want to admit that I’m a fool and have allowed the devil to have a foothold in my life…but I must. For the good of our marriage, for the good of our family, for the good of my relationship with Christ.
“If we would be angry and not sin (says one), we must be angry at nothing but sin; and we should be more jealous for the glory of God than for any interest or reputation of our own.” – Matthew Henry