I’ve been thinking a whole lot about anger….not just my own, but collectively, why so many of us struggle in this area. I’ve honestly put off writing because, well, I’m not perfect. But, I have had some victory in this area. At least, I’m not where I once was. I’m not at square one, but I still need to work on a few things.
This morning my black, Miniature Schnauzer puppy, Russell, woke me up bright and early to go outside. Exactly 4:50 a.m. Sigh. I like sleep so much. But, I’ve been waking up at 5:30 a.m for about 6 months now (most of the time) and I absolutely love waking up that early (well, most of the time). This morning, it was too close to 5:30 for me to warrant going back to bed. I’ve lived long enough now to know that if I’m woken up during my beauty sleep, for whatever reason, (other than children puking), maybe God has something to say.
As I grabbed my cup of water (trying to give up coffee folks…I know, it’s sad) and settled down to a song I had in my head “You Can Have It All Lord“, I knew God was saying a few things to me about this whole issue of anger. And, seriously, whatever God is saying is so much better than anything I could say on my own, so I’m going to share it with you all this morning….
It’s not so much about anger, as it is about surrender.
That’s right. Let it sink in. Let all that condemnation about you being so angry fall off. Really, what are we supposed to feel when our three year old dumps melty peanut butter all over the floor, then toothpaste the next day, then ranch dressing a few days later, than another tube of toothpaste and finally (hopefully) a whole bag of sugar on the floor…all within two weeks. Are we supposed to be all sugar and sweet and everything neat? NO.
How about when your children are fighting, again, over pretty much nothing. Am I supposed to suppress anger and ignore them? Maybe sometimes I do.
What about when your kids are being snails getting ready for school in the morning, when they delay in what they are supposed to be doing, when they refuse to be helpful, give you super powered attitude, or when they themselves react in anger toward a sibling. Are my feelings supposed to be soft? I don’t think God wants me to fake it with my children. No. I know what God wants.
What God wants is all of me. He wants surrender. Surrender so we can receive the ability to possess self-control.
I feel God say, it’s not so much about feeling angry on the inside as much as it is about controlling that angry response. It’s about self-control. However, there is no self-control without surrender first.
Friends, let the condemnation for feeling angry come off. There is no condemnation in Christ. None. He is not upset with us. But, he does want to work with us. He wants to strengthen our self-control through surrendering to the greater work of the Holy Spirit.
The very definition of surrender is “an agreement to stop fighting, hiding or resisting, etc., because you know you will not win or succeed.”
Honestly, take it from me. Angry reactions are not working in this home. They are only making angry children follow after their parents. We cannot win with angry responses. We can win with Christ though.
I believe surrender is something that is cultivated in private and then flows over into daily life, as we continue to trust in God. We CAN trust God with the outcome. We can trust God that He is working in our children’s lives. He loves our kids more than we do. When we surrender to his ways, instead of trying to control our children and everything that might go wrong, we become parents who model peace, even in the midst of the storm.
And friends, I long for peace to be the forceful substance of my home. It doesn’t matter how nicely my home is decorated, how wonderful it smells or the food on my plate. Peace makes all of it pleasant. Even the stink and dirt can be more pleasant with a spoonful of peace.
I’m going to work less on anger and more on surrender. Self-control is a fruit of surrendering to someone greater than I. That someone is Jesus, who never condemns, never is critical or judgemental, but instead lovingly shows us how it is done when he surrendered to the cross. The cross is covering us on our journey to experience true freedom from angry, outward responses. The cross is key to our victory. Whenever I want to yell, roll my eyes, get that mad duck face on (yes, I do that sometimes), cross my arms or lecture, I’m first going to remind myself to go to the cross of surrender. It’s power is unlimited, unmatched and unceasing for those who surrender to it.
Then, we can boldly and with confidence enter the throne of Grace, where there is mercy and grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). These places are real, folks. It’s not a fairy tale. They are more real than the chair I’m sitting on. Let us go there, together, sweet friends, and find all the help and victory we need. For our children, for our grandchildren, for our legacy, for our Lord. Amen.