Blueberries and Rats (Allowing God to Conquer Anger)
It happened again about a week ago…
I was organizing our closet and wanted to finish the task, so I pushed too far into dinner prep. time and was running late.
It had been a long day of sun, crowds of children running throughout the house, and I could feel cheerios crunching under my bare feet. The summer piles of drop-and-run were starting to accumulate and days without solid time reading God’s Word were piling up as well.
But the bucket of blueberries from the morning’s picking was finally washed and drying in the kitchen sink.
One of our kiddos entered the kitchen needing a drink, but to “save time” he opted to lean over the berries and attempted to drink from under the faucet.
His attempt wasn’t successful.
He started laugh-coughing when his brother said something funny.
Water from his mouth and nose sprayed all over my clean berries and…
I lost it.
Just picture (or maybe please don’t) a LOUD, lo-o-o-o-ng tirade that sounded something like:
That was so inconsiderate and rude and do you think I have time right now to re-wash all those berries and how long would it take you to get a cup and can you all for once just please not make a mess and what in the world were you thinking?
The rats in my cellar came out.
“Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth?
If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding.
In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.” ~ C.S. Lewis
I felt convicted.
“For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” ~James 1:19
Not so immediately,
I was convicted enough to ask for my child’s forgiveness.
It’s easy to excuse the outburst or criticism or anger with rationalizations.
But– there is a difference between patient-teaching-training,
And frustrated criticism.
And there is no excuse for sin.
Because that’s really what it is.
And the kids can spot them–
Those rats in my cellar.
In her book, Women Living Well, Courtney Joseph writes that “When we as moms go on a long rant about something the child has done wrong…our child has not been brought any closer to wisdom and understanding… when we harshly tell our children that we do not like something they are doing, all they hear is, ‘You don’t like me.’ Period.”
Nothing we do or say is neutral.
Our words and actions either build up or tear down.
And I don’t want to be a wife or mama who “tears down (my) house with (my) own hands.”
So what comes next?
How can we change?
Is change even possible?
I love what Courtney writes on page 143 of Women Living Well:
“There is hope. There is hope for all of us. The first step to making true change is by calling sin, sin. When we lose our tempers and spout off angry words at our children, we are sinning.”
And when I sin, especially in front of my children, it provides a unique opportunity to show them how much I need a Savior.
I’ve started to look for those “gospel moments” in the midst of my failures because it provides a time when I can sit shoulder-to-shoulder with my child and explain how much we both need God’s grace and forgiveness and help.
“We cannot do this on our own. We need the transforming power of God within us to make us new” (Women Living Well page 143).
And thankfully, God chose to love and pursue us, while we were still sinners.
While I was still a big mess, God chose to send his son Jesus, to die for my sins and make me a new creation.
He promises that I no longer have to live under the control of anger, but that He can change me and give me a spirit of gentleness and kindness and encouragement.
While God is the one who ultimately must produce real change, my choices also affect how quick I am to grow angry.
The “rats in my cellar” often appear when I’ve been ignoring the basics:
- Not enough time reading & memorizing the Bible.
- Not enough time sleeping, eating well, getting exercise.
- Saying “yes” to too many things (even good ones).
- Letting consistent discipline and instruction fall to the wayside.
- Allowing disorganization and poor time management to creep in.
And prayer is crucial.
Thankfully, our water-faucet-child is very forgiving and he apologized to me as well. But my battle against sinful anger isn’t over, and it was a good reminder that every. single. day. my prayer needs to be–
“Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Kara is 17-and-a-half-years-married to her husband Jason, one of the funniest and most generous people she knows. They have five kiddos, four here and one in Heaven. They also have a muppet-like-mess of a dog, 100 Madagascar Hissers, 6 chickens, 8 fish, and 2 Bearded Dragons. Kara writes mostly about family, adoption, grief, education, traditions, books, organization, Heaven, and most-importantly– her love for God. Her favorite color is green and you can find her family adventures over at The Chuppies, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
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Thank you for this. I really struggle in this area myself, and I’ve been praying for God to help me change. It’s a slow process. It helps to know I’m not alone in this struggle. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Blessings to you and yours 🙂
Thanks so much Kate…
It’s an ongoing battle isn’t it, but I’m so thankful when I see small victories…where God steps in and calms me BEFORE I react. I’m really trying to memorize some specific verses and I’m asking Him to bring them to mind in the moment I need them. Thanks for taking the time to read and leave an encouraging comment. Love, Kara
The title of your story caught my eye on Twitter – and I shared it on my magazine FB page! I loved what you wrote, and you wrote it so well!
Thanks so much for sharing it Marcy and I appreciate your encouragement… Love, Kara
Loved this!! While it is written about children is is absolutely spot on about anger in our hearts in general. My boys a grown and married but my thoughts while I was reading this were turned toward other things that anger can come oozing out. The things we must do to prevent it were exactly right . I can usually trace where things go wrong back to one of those on the list. Not making enough time to spend with our Savior is the leading cause to me getting off balanced.
Very much enjoyed this…
Smiles & Blessings to you!!!
I really appreciate how you went beyond just the kiddos’ stage Tracy…and it’s so true.
Even down to whether or not I get frustrated by the person driving under the speed limit when I’m running late or am impatient with the cashier at the market…there usually has been a similar progression of not great choices on my part that have led up to the rising impatience.
Thanks so much for adding these thoughts…and leaving this kind encouragement… 🙂
A Wonderful Writing — Thanks for Sharing It
Thank you Summer 🙂
Just found this as I was scrolling through Pinterest, this is something I have been praying over and struggling with so much. Just this morning during church and communion prayer time I was praying about my children and how some of the things I struggle with are affecting them.
Thank you for writing this, it brings me back to the basics and re-instates that I need to make sure I’m keeping up on the same things you highlighted. Also it’s a reminder that I’m not alone in this battle and that the Lord is forgiving and is continuing to work and shape me into what He wants me to be. So many times the enemy tries to convince me that I’m the only one that struggles with this.
Laura Lane of Harvest Lane Cottage
Here’s the post I wrote with the link to your post on my blog.
Thanks for letting me share it.
Thank you… so much truth and wisdom here. You’ve convicted my heart today. SO thankful that God’s mercies are new each morning. 🙂