Trading Anger for Love
"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 NIV.
Friend to Friend
"I'm a terrible mom!"
Do you ever say this to yourself? I do. I just did.
I was working in my office, minding my own business, when my oldest son threw a paper airplane at the back of my head. Not one to normally welcome an air attack, I gave him the stern "mom voice," and asked him to stop messing around and give me some private time so I could get some work done. He agreed, and turned to leave. Surprisingly, he then jumped around and threw it at me again! Well, let me tell you, my grace-o-meter was reading pretty low at this point!! I barked like an angry dog. "What in the world do you think you are doing? I just told you that I needed to be left alone so I can get some work done! Stop it!"
"There's a message on the plane." He tenderly retorted. "Read it, mom!"
As I unfolded the airplane made of orange construction paper, I saw this message written in pink marker: "I Love You."
"Nice!" I said to myself. "Loser-mom strikes again." I had scolded my son and reacted out of frustration with an unkind tone. All the while, my son was trying to communicate love to me.
I felt horrible...so, naturally, I started to beat myself up.
But as shame tried to fill my heart, love kicked shame to the curb. I called my son in, and apologized for my behavior. I welcomed this tall, lanky pre-teen to sit on my lap and told him that -- while I'm not fond of airplane attacks, especially while I'm working, I am fond of love attacks. We held each other and had a very sweet moment.
Here's the lesson I learned: When we trade our anger for love, we are able to experience restoration in relationships.
The Bible tells us that we are to be slow to anger. It is a lesson that I am still learning. Now, that doesn't mean that we should never be angry. Jesus exhibited righteous anger in the Jerusalem temple when he drove out the merchants that were buying and selling there. Righteous anger is permissible. We should be angry about sin and injustice. But when we respond to others in anger, it becomes our sin.
The benefits of trading anger for love are tremendous, but the application can be very challenging. We can't overcome our natural, sinful tendencies to react, and overreact, in anger alone. We need God's help. His strength will meet us at our need when we cry out to Him. The Holy Spirit will help us to respond in God's strength, not our own.
When I traded anger for love following the construction paper airplane attack, my son and I were greatly rewarded and beautifully restored. Thank you, Jesus.
Holy Father, I need your help! I confess my anger right now. Please forgive me. Please bring restoration to relationships that have been affected by my anger. Help me recognize when I over-react or when I respond in anger. Give me the strength to respond in love, so that you can be glorified through my behavior.
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
Do you need to trade anger for love? In what relationships? How?
Ask God to bring a fresh awareness to your soul each time you react in anger.
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