How often do we allow anger to get the best of us? If you're like me, it does rear its ugly head from time to time. After all, we are human. However, it doesn't have to rule our lives, nor should we use the excuse of being human to remain unwilling to change and improve.
When I was engaged to marry my husband David, my father warned him, "Marcia has a short fuse, but she's quick to forgive." I hated to admit that he was right, and at times when I am easily provoked or angered, that thought still crosses my mind. At least my dad gave me credit for my willingness to forgive easily. I do not like to leave things unsettled between myself and others, and if I am unable to make peace with someone right away, it weighs heavily on my mind.
Once, when I had only been married for a little over two years, a visiting friend stayed with my family for three months. One evening, I had gotten upset with my husband and blurted out something in anger. I later realized that I was in the wrong and even apologized to him. For some reason, the earlier heated exchange with my husband highly upset my friend, who refused to speak to me for a couple of days. This really provoked me because the rule in our home was to not let the sun set on our anger, and I truly did want to make peace with her.
When my friend finally decided to speak to me, she remarked, "When I get married, my husband and I will do all of our arguing behind closed doors." Indignantly, I let her know that we were arguing behind closed doors, but she happened to be behind them. As a single person, she had grand ideas of how marriage was going to be for her, but the reality was that she would never know how the dynamics would work until she actually married.
When my son was in elementary school, he had trouble figuring out how to deal with his anger. Sometimes, he would destroy something in his room, like a toy or a school paper. Once he ripped a pillowcase to shreds. I worried about him and prayed he would not continue on that path into adulthood. One night, as I was tucking him into bed, I asked if he would like for me to pray with him about his anger. He agreed, and I rebuked the spirit of anger in him and prayed over him. Afterwards, he said, "Mom, it felt like something leaped out of my chest." He was a changed boy.
More recently, I spoke to a single mom who confessed that she had gotten sucked into an argument with her ex-husband. Normally, she tries to handle things peacefully from her end, and she immediately regretted that she had gotten down to his level and screamed back at him. The same week, she had been reminded of the love passage in I Corinthians 13 several times. It was in a sermon at a church, in an online daily devotional, and even on Christian radio. God reminded her that love is patient and kind and not easily angered. She realized that she needed to continue responding in love to a man who seemingly has a hard heart.
Psalm 37 is one of my favorite passages to share with someone who is going through a difficult situation or is feeling mistreated or misjudged by others. It has brought comfort to me many times, but in the past year, the second half of verse eight really stood out to me for the first time: "...do not fret--it leads only to evil." Forgiveness replaces fretting and can keep us in a right relationship with our Heavenly father, as well as others.
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.