We all have rough days. Days where the kids are miserable and demand that everyone around them are miserable too. Days where the demands of marriage, parenting, friendships, housework, budgeting, running errand, and work all just seem too much for us to take. Days where we want nothing more than to whine about everything, be mad at the world, or be selfish and not do anything at all. These emotions are all normal. God made us to have feeling and be emotional. We are relational beings and those relationships would not be possible if there were no emotion attached to them. The struggle is how to not react out of emotion in our day to day struggles but to allow God to teach us what those emotions say about us and allow us to see the situation or the person the way HE sees it.
Our kids may have the temporary privilege of temper tantrums or be able to get away with the ‘I need a snack or a nap’ moodiness, but let’s face it, that just doesn’t fly for adults. Imagine that you are at the grocery store, you ring up your items and the bill ends up being over your budget. How silly would you look crossing your arms, sticking out your lip and stomping around saying ‘I don’t want to pay that! It’s MY money not yours!’? We get so frustrated with our kids when they react this way to having to share or do chores. They react out of the emotion of wanting to hold on, wanting to keep control and independence. And even though this example may seem silly, isn’t that how we all are?
How often have you yelled at your child because you didn’t like how the tone of what they said made you feel? Or been mad at your spouse because they didn’t run an errand like you were expecting and now you have to do that too? Or maybe you just cannot stand how your neighbor’s trash can is always too far out in the street on trash day and then they let it sit there for 2 days. Is that not the same reacting out of emotion? Letting how you feel control how you act toward someone? Even if you are just in your anger what does this solve?
What if you could learn to not react out of the anger and never have to yell at your kids again, but simply use that emotion and let it become a teachable moment all around? What if you could take that resentment toward your spouse not running an errand again and learn why that makes you so upset to start with? After all, it’s not really the errand you’re mad about, or your neighbor’s trash can for that matter. It’s that you are not being listened to, or feel that your own time or personal space is not valued. That is the real issue that needs to be discovered and discussed, but getting angry and throwing a grown up tantrum does nothing at solving the problem anymore than stomping around the grocery store waiting for the clerk to change your grocery bill.
So how can we learn to control our emotions instead of letting our emotions control us? How do we discover what the deeper issue really is? We ask God to change our hearts. We ask God to show us something about ourselves that causes us to react the way we do. We pray that God allows us to see our kids, husband, neighbor, etc. as He does. We let God show us love, grace, and acceptance toward ourselves and allow that to overflow in all other relationships we have.
I choose today to not live my life based on my emotion, but based on God’s emotion. I want to see every relationship I have as God sees it and be able to forgive, love, and live in the peace and joy that I believe we are all meant to live in. I choose today to be “made new in the attitude of my mind.” (Ephesians 4:22-24). The Greek word for “made new” is kaino, another use of this word is uncommon. I like that, to be uncommon and new in the attitude of my mind. To not be like the rest of the world that lets emotion control behavior, to not let my own personal hurt determine how I act toward my children or spouse, to not look at the hurt and wrongdoings in the world and look for who’s to blame in it. I choose to be different and see the world for the hurting and broken people that are in it and are all looking for the same forgiveness, love, acceptance, peace, and joy that I am but are too broken and imperfect to know how to receive it. We cannot control how other people behave, but, with God’s help, we can control how we respond to it and how we respond to them.
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools. ~Ecclesiastes 7:8-9
For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. ~1 Peter 2:19-23
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. ~Proverbs 15:18
Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. ~Colossians 3:13
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~John 13:34-35