Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rip Snortin' Mad Mama - What do you do with anger?

I wish I could say kids have brought out the best in me. Actually, they've brought out the worst.  Before I had children, I was a patient, soft spoken person.  But then came the toddler years, and siblings and fighting, nit-picking and whining.  Somewhere deep inside, the sweet mama morphed into a wild eyed crazy woman, who (*sigh* I confess) YELLED. Not all the time.  I had mastered the art of Jekyll and Hyde mothering. Maybe you're familiar with it.  I could be hollering through clenched teeth, "How many times do I have to come down here and tell you to finish picking up your toys!!!" when the phone would ring and I'd answer in my sweetest Donna Reed voice, "Hello."  All the while I would be giving my kids THE LOOK while silently shaking the finger that was suppose to let them know they better listen or else!  These episodes were often followed by waves of guilt because I felt like such a hypocrite.  I didn't know what to do or how to act when angry.

Anger.  I knew that bible verse that said, "In your anger, do not sin."  It doesn't say, "Don't be angry."  Just do not sin.  How in the world was that accomplished?  For years, I struggled with thinking that anger was sinning.

One day, while reading the story of Moses and the Israelites wandering in the desert, I realized God really hated whining.  There were consequences to their unbelief and complaining. Numbers 11 starts out saying, "And now the people complained about their hardships, and when he heard them his anger was aroused."  This was my favorite part...God tells Moses to answer for him like this:

"The Lord heard you when you wailed, 'If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!' Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’

That sounded like something a frustrated mother might say!  "If you don't quit yer bellyaching and eat those peas, I'm gonna feed 'em to ya until ya love 'em and your eyes turn green!"  I'm quite certain it wasn't said with the tone of Donna Reed either.  So, how does one go about being angry and not sinning because it is possible.  God was pretty snortin' mad and we know he didn't sin.  

I think I found the answer the other day.  It's in the story of Jesus driving out those who were selling sacrificial animals inside the temple courts.  The verse says, "So, he made a whip out of chords and drove them from the temple courts..."  

It didn't say "he was so filled with anger that he grabbed the nearest whip he could find from that guy walking his donkey down the street near him".  Nor did it say, "he started punching the salesmen until they got them message."  I think this is the key...
           HE MADE A WHIP.  
That takes time.  It means his anger wasn't a fly-off-the-handle kind of anger.  He had time to think about what he would say.  How he would go about it.  He knew that what he was upset about was legit.  

I'm not suggesting you go whittle at stick off the apple tree to make a switch to discipline each time your kids get you riled up.  But I think time is what keeps us from overreacting and saying and doing things we'd regret later.  

So, when your kids have whined you into a tizzy, it's alright if you're sick of it.  Hey! If God got fed up with constant  complaining and whining, I can too.  And boy, can kids whine!  But then go that next step, take time to ponder how you can teach them.  You're not a bad mama if you get angry.  You're normal.  Just learn to deal with it without over reacting.  And from what we've seen in scripture, being angry and telling them "You're gonna eat that til it come out your nose!"  is still on the table :)