For as long as I remember, I have struggled with anger. Not huge, raging, out of control anger; more like irritability, impatience, little tolerance for others, passive aggressive and eye rolling, humorous sarcasm anger. Ask anyone who knows me well, and they will tell you that little things drive me crazy. People who write checks at the grocery store (I mean seriously, who writes checks now a days!), slow drivers, fast drivers, tardiness of others, traffic, bad service at restaurants, the list goes on and on. Essentially anything that gets in the way of me accomplishing my goals tends to set me off. I tend to deal with this anger in a socially acceptable way so that others don’ think badly of me, but it’s there in my heart, nonetheless.
And then I had kids. Talk about keeping me from accomplishing my goals! Sometimes it seems like my children plot together on how to best keep me from getting anything done.
“I’ll have a meltdown, and then you throw flower all over the floor, and then Elana will start crying. It’s perfect!!!!!!!!” (I swear I heard Leah tell Elias this the other day)
Now all day long, I get to practice keeping my irritability and anger at bay. I tell myself constantly that I have been given three beautiful and wonderful gifts. My children are precious souls, made in the image of God and given to me by my creator, and I have the inexplicable privilege and responsibility to raise and teach them.
Leah has started saying something to me that has made me come face to face with my sinful anger. She looks at me, and with her adorable little voice she says : “why are you angry at me, mommy?”
It cuts me to the quick (by the way, I have no idea what that expression means…. It makes no sense, but I digress). I don't want my children to think I am angry all the time. I really really, really don't want that.
My sinful self wants to respond: “I am allowed to be angry at you, because you are not doing what I want you to do!” My sinful self tries to justify that anger, because after all, she is disobeying. And kids shouldn’t disobey their parents, and God wants me to teach her to obey. Therefore, I am allowed to be angry.
But that is definitely not true, and definitely not biblical. “Be angry yet do not sin.” I wish I could look at Leah and truthfully say: “I am not angry, I am sad because your behavior is not honoring to God. “ But truthfully, that’s not why I am angry.
In my heart, this is what I ‘m yelling: “I’m angry because you are driving me crazy! I want to have a peaceful day! I don’t want to have to deal with your whining and your disobedience! I want to do what I want to do! I want a clean house, and clean kids, and obedient kids, and I want to eat my lunch while it’s fresh, and I want to pee in private, and I want to be able to work out alone, and I want to have the perfect family that all my facebook friends seem to have! Not only do I want all of this, but I deserve all of this, dang it!”
So I usually have to apologize to Leah for being angry (If someone had told me two years ago that I would have to apologize to my three year old multiple times a day I would have laughed), and tell her that her behavior is not honoring to God, and that neither is mine, and that we both need Jesus. It gets complicated, because I still have the responsibility to teach and train my children. I have to discipline and admonish, set limits and enforce them. I just wish I could do all of this without sinning. Without my selfishness creeping in. Without sinful anger creeping in.
But I can’t. I will never be perfect this side of eternity. I do, however, have the Holy Spirit in me. The same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in me, and with his help, and his help only I can win small battles every day. I can only do this by remembering that I am more sinful than I dare imagine, but more loved and forgiven than I can ever believe (I finally get it, dad!)