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Help My Anger

Lord, help my anger.

That’s been my prayer all day long. This morning at church, our pastor again talked about three-word prayers and how you should be in a constant state of prayer throughout the day. Today, I have been solely focused on three words: Help my anger.

If you’re a parent of boys, this blog may mean more to you than if you are a parent of girls only. I don’t know how else to say this, but I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as mad at my sons as I was this morning.

And, I’ve had to pray incessantly all day to my bite my tongue, control my anger, and parent out of love and not rage. Yes. I said rage.

Allow me to explain…

Last night, my boys had a sleepover with one of their good friends. Precious kid, great family. Some of my favorite people in the world. So, my kids were not acting under a bad influence . . . their own sinful nature was at work.

Since it is difficult to go out to eat with our entourage, especially on a Saturday night, I decided to cook dinner at home. (Yes, party for seven without a reservation. You get the idea.). Joe was outside grilling, and I was in the kitchen when I heard noises upstairs above our great room. There is no room above our great room.

Let me pause.

We have an unusual house that has two separate upstairs living spaces. They do not connect. However, you can travel through the attic to the two different living spaces if you’re willing to navigate all the HVAC equipment, wiring, and various as-sundry equipment. It is not a safe area and only used for construction access.

Several times, my boys have wandered into the attic wanting to play hide and seek. At least six times, I have reiterated that the attic is off limits. It is not floored all the way across, and it is not a safe place to play. You would think telling them once was enough, but we’ve had this discussion multiple times after they “forget.” Every single time they say they are sorry, and they will not do it again.

As I’m pulling potatoes out of the oven, I realized they were in the attic above. With mitts in hand, and hot food everywhere, I yelled upstairs, admonishing them to get out of the attic. The shuffling ended and within a few minutes they appeared for dinner. I didn’t think much about it. They devoured their food and then took their hide and seek game outside for the rest of the evening.

Early this morning, my husband awakened being unaccustomed to the daylight savings time change and went to his office to do some work. I also awakened early, and he called me into his office. “Carmen, I need you to take a deep breath.” As I am inhaling, I noticed white dust everywhere in his office. He then he asked me to look up. There, 30 above the floor was a gaping hole in the ceiling.

It would be an exaggeration to tell you that I saw red. I think horns shot out of my head and I may have embodied Satan for 30 seconds. Tears welled up. Not those of sadness, but of pure anger. What I had warned the boys of could happen playing in the attic, HAD happened while playing in the attic. One of them had stepped through the sheet rock ceiling. The hole was one thing, but the danger was even worse. One of them could have fallen 30 feet, breaking a limb, or worse, breaking a neck. This is highest ceiling in our house. I was livid.

The boys were still asleep and Joe kindly and gently tried to talk me off the ledge. I was ready to storm upstairs and drag them out of bed kicking and screaming. Joe suggested we wait to confront them until after our guest had left. I agreed but I was still shaking with anger. I put on my gym clothes and went out to our garage gym and worked out as hard as I could for an hour. I was still flaming mad at the end of a workout. So, I headed outside to the half-finished pool and scrubbed the plaster—which apparently needs to be brushed every day. After another hour of sweating, in the cold air, I finally went inside to take a shower. I could not even look at them at breakfast. Thankfully, Joe fed them, and we headed off to church. (Great frame of mind for worship!)

And, of course, the Holy Spirit convicted me with the three-word prayer practice. Help my anger. By the end of the service, I could at least interact with the boys in a cordial manner. We grabbed lunch and came back to the house and their friend was picked up to head home. We then asked the boys to join us in Joe’s office. “Look up.” Both looked up at the hole, but their eyes then darted to the floor. They said nothing. Neither of them confessed. And I may never know whose foot impaled the sheet rock. However, we sought to dole out punishment in the absence of wrath. I had to let Joe do most of the talking as I could still feel the fire in my belly.

As a parent, I know you should never discipline out of anger. But I was struggling. I took the time out. I worked out. I tried manual labor. I was repeating the three-word prayer. I even tried retail therapy heading off to Costco. (But, Costco on a Sunday afternoon is not a soothing experience!) Joe tried to console with stories of his own antics as a teenager. Apparently, a kid who pushes a teacher’s flowerpots off a ledge for meanness and throws a baseball through a window on purpose can still turn out to be a godly man, loving husband, and great dad!

I came home, still avoiding the boys, and opened my Bible. I poured over these words.

An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. (Proverbs 29:22)

I was hot and I needed to cool off.

Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.

(Proverbs 29:20)

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

(James 1:19-20)

Thank the Lord I have a husband who restrained me from unleashing on my boys in my moment of rage and displayed true grace with the boys AND with me.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

(Galatians 5:22-23)

Ouch, that’s convicting. Definitely not displaying forbearance, gentleness, or self-control today.

I drifted off to sleep pouring over these words. Lord, help my anger.

When angry, do not sin; do let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. (Ephesians 4:26)

I got up this morning, not sure if I was still mad, and headed to my closet to get dressed. I then saw it. The “I am Sorry” jar.

Months ago, one of the boys made this for me. He wanted me to remember it when he broke a rule or did something stupid. I opened it and read the notes.

I just cried. This time, they were not tears of rage but tears of release. I had to forgive them as God forgave me. Raising these boys is hard. But, everything I need to know was right there in Ephesians. Lord, help my anger and help me raise them for You!

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:22-32)


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