I have two settings when it comes to anger. The first is to get extremely cross, very quickly. I shout, completely lose my temper and then walk away. The second is to swallow my anger down and bury it, deep, self protection for me and complete confrontation avoidance. Because I believe that if I let you know that I have been wounded by you then that will lead to conflict and an argument rather than a conversation. Right??
The way I deal with anger is seperated into two categories, one for my immediate family and the other for everyone else. I think you and I would both agree that neither is healthy, for myself or those in the firing line.
Growing up, I was disciplined and then sent to my room. It left me with a feeling of anger, that as a child I did not understand or know how to deal with appropriately. I don’t say that to be disrespectful to my parents but just to acknowledge that is the way I was raised.
As a young adult I went through a time of burying all feelings, that included anger, loneliness, sadness but it also robbed me of joy. As I have let feelings come back in, anger seems to have been the emotion to blow in like a tornado and I still do not have the coping mechanisms in place to deal with it in a healthy manner and so it wreaks havoc.
So I take this to God on my dog walk today and our conversation goes a bit like this…
Me “Father God, I’m not dealing with my anger very well”
God “Yes, I had kind of noticed”
Me “things aren’t getting better, I go from 0-60 faster than any sports car, I shout in a rage at my kids and Carl and then I feel like poo”
God “yep, it’s pretty tricky isn’t it”
Me “so I was wondering if you could you just take my anger away and give me peace?”
God “I do see what your asking, and I could do that. But..”
Me “I knew there was a but coming!”
God “but, I love you too much to do that! I am trying to teach you something important here. So I’m going to walk through this with you, and we may need to start over several times but I promise you I will be right with you and we will overcome this together, ok?”
Me”that sounds like hard work, wouldn’t my way be much easier?”
God “maybe it would in the short term but I have long term plans for you so you’ve got to trust me, do you?”
Me “hum, let me think on that!…yes, I do trust you”
My conversations with God can be somewhat long winded with lots of begging and sulking on my part and lots of patience in his.
But he’s right, he could flick a switch and give me exactly what I’m asking for but what kind of parent does that?
With my own children there are countless times when I could sweep in and do things for them, it would sure save a lot of time, but what does that teach them? Carl and I are trying to raise children confident in their own skills to problem solve, to work things out for themselves, not children who look to their parents for a quick fix. Yes we are there to guide and advise but not to do all the work on their behalf. They are our dependants but I also want them to grow in independence.
And this is what God is doing with me, he is guiding and advising, he’s walking me through the messy stuff but he’s also asking me to do some of the work to find the solution and I am gaining wisdom and knowledge in the process. Yes maybe not the way I always want him to do things but probably a far more useful and constructive method with lasting tools for my spiritual tool belt.