Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.Proverbs 22:24-25
I was once an angry little homeschool mom. I’m not proud of it, but there it is.
In truth, I struggled with anger for most of my memory. I’m pretty sure when I was young, I stuffed a whole lot of hurt down along with a good bit of resentment and anger until it reached a critical mass of pressure hot enough to cook it into a roiling, seething pool of fury that would occasionally erupt into sounds. Loud ones.
I remember reading this passage in the Proverbs at one point – maybe to my kids, maybe by myself – and realizing, “I am that wrathful man (well, woman, technically, but you get the drift).”
Ugh. As a homeschool mom, my responsibility was to teach my kids. And that’s just what I was doing – teaching them to respond in anger. Teaching them to blow their top. Teaching them impatience.
None of these things were in my preferred curriculum. What I wanted was to teach them to love the Lord our God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.
But what I modeled was letting small irritations pile up until a final one broke the proverbial camel’s back – or at least the sound barrier. I was a bit of a yeller.
What did I do?
Well, I tried to control my temper, but it just didn’t work well. I tried to talk myself through it. Finally, I realized that I was helpless in the face of this decades-old mess inside me.
Then I made my first fruitful move. I hit my knees.
I began crying out to God to destroy the anger in my heart. I confessed my dire need of Him. I tearfully begged Him to destroy this thing before it destroyed my young.
And He did! Over time, bit by bit the stinking hot pool of wrath was siphoned off until finally a day came when I handled fifteen irritations without loosing my cool.
Then twenty-five. Then forty.
Then more and more and more. And as my patience grew, my anger diminished until only a puddle remained where a vast sea had once been.
Oh, I still get angry. It isn’t dead yet. However, I no longer fly into a temper over small things. I’ve learned better ways to use the energy of anger – prayer. Reciting Scripture. Physical activity to clear my head.
Not one bit of this can be attributed to anything I’ve done. It is very literally the fruit of God’s Spirit working in me and showing up in my life.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. . .Galatians 5:22-23a
What is something you struggle with that you’ve seen God show up in?