My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19, 20
Expectations Can Fall Short
Do you ever have expectations about how a certain situation is going to turn out? Well, of course, you do. I think that is just human nature. Have you ever noticed what happens when those expectations are not met? If you have taken the time to observe your reactions, I am sure you have noticed, just like I did, that many times you get angry. When people don’t meet our expectations, especially our spouses, our knee-jerk reaction can be, “How dare they???” It is easy to take offense if the issue is intense enough and then the offense can lead to bitterness and unforgiveness. If it is not dealt with, bitterness and unforgiveness will harden your heart in a quick minute.
Several weeks ago I was involved in a situation when my husband did not respond the way I expected to a request that I had. And I hate to admit it, but it offended me. I wasn’t as offended at the response as I was to the way the response came. See, I dislike short and snippy answers. I always have and whenever answers come in that particular package, my knee jerk reaction is just that…a reaction. I get mad and think that the person involved is somehow rejecting me, so I lash out in anger, trying to wound first. Surely, then the pain inside my heart won’t be so bad, right?! (If that logic were sound, then why didn’t I feel any better?)
Now, if that strikes a cord in you own heart, there is no need for you to feel condemned because, in the school of the Holy Spirit, nothing goes to waste. God will absolutely use everything we encounter for our good. He wants to teach us to see things from His perspective and He wants to teach us how to respond to situations the way He would.
How Should We Respond to Anger?
Well, thankfully, my loving Heavenly Father is currently teaching me how to take a step back when I encounter a situation when someone has some type of response that I don’t understand or one that I wasn’t expecting. See, I am beginning to “get” that I don’t see the whole picture. I have NO idea what is going on with the other person at that exact moment. I see through a glass dimly and He sees everything as clear as day.
There is a story that illustrates this point perfectly. It is found in Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. One night a man got onto a train so that he could go home after a long day’s work. He was exhausted and could think of nothing better than dinner with his family and a hot bath. Well, as he was starting to settle into his seat, the two children behind him started screaming and jumping from seat to seat across the aisles. The man tolerated it for a few moments thinking that at any minute they would stop. But, the children just got louder and louder. So, the man turned around to give them the evil eye.(Hmmm..I wonder if he was a teacher. LOL!) Surely that would make them behave. The kids were oblivious to the icy stare. However, as he turned around, he noticed another man sitting with the children. This must be their father. Judgment, anger and criticism immediately filled his mind. How could he let them act so wildly? When he had had enough, the first man turned around and very crisply spoke. He said, “Would you PLEASE get your children under control? I have had a really hard day and they are driving me crazy.” To that, the father replied, “I would be glad to, but I just don’t have the strength. See, we are on our way home from the hospital and their mother just died.”
Now, of course, we know that the story represents an extreme situation, but it serves as a fantastic reminder. The next time we get into a tough situation, let’s remember to take a moment and press the pause button inside your brain. Take a step back and instead of giving in to anger, realize that the way you perceive the situation may not be accurate at all. Then once we have calmed our minds, ask questions, if necessary. Don’t assume anything, but let this be a springboard into COMMUNICATION! And let’s make sure we listen to what the other person is saying. We may learn something and it will definitely help temper our reactions.
So, today as you take the time to BeLoved Completely, ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you any way that you may have reacted to a situation recently. Then, take a step back and ask Him to show you how He sees the situation. You may need to go to someone and ask some questions, but also, ask for the grace to listen to their answers. My prayer is that you will be amazed at the depth of communication that can come as a result of this simple action. And it is also my prayer that His peace would come and guard our hearts and minds as we make this part of our everyday lives.
As my gift to you, I created a picture of the beach with a pause button at the top. This can help serve as a reminder to slow down, pause and look at the issue that is causing you some anger from a different perspective. Isn’t it always easier to pause when you are at the beach??? or at least thinking about the beach???? 🙂 Print it and put it somewhere you can see if/when you become angry. Anger Mgt. 101 Pause