Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Anger comes at a cost

I remember when I was little having to ask my mom about words my dad used.  I remember one time that he called her a word that made her so mad I thought her head might explode. I remember one time when he threw a lamp and it shattered when it hit the wall. And I remember the time when I was about 18 that he threw the remote directly at me.

I grew up with a dad who had a temper. And although I didn't ever see my mother throw anything, she had a temper too.  I cannot count the times the two of them would stand toe to toe. Hostility and anger can fill a room, and a family.

For the most part, I'm not raising my children in a home like that. I thank God for that. Neal and I almost never fight, but we have had a few blowouts in the twenty-two years we've been married.  Neal broke his hand once, and totaled a set of keys another time (the $125 clicker was busted) but for the most part, we don't have conflict, and what we do have is typically peaceable.  But not always.

I remember one time I was so frustrated I chucked a bottle of baby Motrin across the kitchen. The pink stains on the ceiling stayed there mocking me for another decade until we remodeled the house. No babies were involved in that incident to be clear, and neither was my husband. But the baby medicine ended up on the ceiling just the same.

Anger is an ugly emotion. And sometimes it's outburst just sneaks up on you. And you end up with a broken lamp, or a busted hand, or a shattered phone.

Saturday last was my shattered phone day.  I didn't actually mean to throw my phone. I had something else in my hand I was trying to chuck down to the floor in a dramatic outburst.  But the phone was in my hand, and it didn't stay in it case when the force of my hand went forward.  Then there was that moment where time seemed to slow to almost stillness and all I heard was the thud as my phone slammed to the floor.  I looked down and it was not on the floor, it was all over the floor. I picked up the battery, then the back, then I walked over and picked up the face and turned it over slowly in my hand.  I immediately thought of the cell phone commercial with the guy with all the band-aids, but I didn't find it funny anymore.

I was heartbroken. Not because of my phone (though I wasn't at all happy about that) but because I had made an ass of myself and completely lost my cool over something relatively benign and stupid, and I did it in front of my kids. I went looking for Neal who was napping in the bedroom (who, by the way, if he had been awake would have probably prevented my temper tantrum by his sheer presence. I just act better when he's around.) That gives me pause to thought - as much as I say "I lost my temper," the fact is, I had a choice.

I think that's why the bible tells us "Be angry, but do not sin."  Because the reality is, the emotion of anger rises up sometimes, and it's not easy to stop. But it's what we DO with our anger that becomes the problem.  My problem that day wasn't even "the straw that broke the camel's phone's back. My problem was all that led up to that moment.  And I just snapped.

I took the picture of my shattered phone because I don't want to forget that anger comes at a cost.  In the simple manner this phone cost me $150 to replace (thankful for insurance) but I don't know what it cost me in my witness to my kids.  And I can only hope that it doesn't pass along to them (suddenly thinking about Ethan throwing a bag of chips violently into the backseat of my car at his friend who smacked him playing around.) It's a root that has planted. It cannot be allowed to grow.

I am a yeller at times, but a thrower is not my norm.  Pressures I've been battling for a while, some for months, some for years festered beneath the surface, and Saturday it's like the pressure blew the top off, but still I had a choice.  That day, and that moment have replayed in my mind a thousand times in the last few days.  I see myself chucking the phone and I want to hit the pause button.  I cringe, because I cannot go back. But I can think about what I might do differently in the future.  Walk away for starters, take a walk... a long walk.  Pray. Ask for prayer.  There are a thousand better choices to make. Next time I hope I'll make one.

My new phone is defective. It randomly reboots 15 some times a day.  And every time I want to kick myself because of what I did.  i hang my head in shame because I feel like a failure. But my sin does not define me - and like the enemy, my phone seems to accuse me.

When I posted the above pic on my Facebook wall and confessed my sin, a dear friend simply commented, "I still love you."  I think she was uttering the very heart of God, because He still loves me too.  And I am thankful for life lessons, but even more thankful for His mercies that are new every day.

1 comment:

JESSICA REYNOLDS RENSHAW said...

Thank you, Diana. I've been there. Not lately, thank God, but I'm still ashamed enough not to want to talk about it.