When I was a high school kid, or maybe undergrad, we had this term: primal scream. It was to describe that earth-shattering, heart-rending sound that was wordless and described such pain or rage that words could not describe it.
As an adult, I don’t do that so much anymore. No, I lied… I do still do it, but not in the melodramatic, angst-filled, larger-than-life way of teens. No, I’m more mature:
- I smile and nod during small talk, making barbed quips in my head at the speaker that the speaker will never hear. (Quite humorous at times, but I digress…)
- I launch into a tirade at my husband the moment he steps in the door. It’s not him. I just need him to hear the ferocity of my feelings and appreciate the depth of my intellect as I tear someone’s words or actions to shreds. These actions leave me so internally disquieted that I get a kind of heartburn that only gets relieved if I “verbally vomit,” as a women’s pastor I know likes to say.
- This is the scariest one: I simply teach my kids how to handle the very kind of person I dislike with a positive attitude and encouragement. Two of the three never see anything wrong, but the third, my middle child, is my unique one. She has a personality like a firecracker, and somehow, someway, inside of her, she knows the sweetness is an act to cover the swirling negativity within me. And she challenges me…repeatedly.
As fun as these may be, they are not healthy. Yes, it is good to teach my kids right thinking and behavior if and only if my motives are as pure as I can get them. My still, small Voice has been dealing with me (yelling at me and chewing me out, but that’s the rebellious teenager in me). So where is He leading me?
First, I have to acknowledge that my anger, righteous or unrighteous, is just a feeling. If I dwell on that feeling too long, I can break my connection to my still, small Voice and never reach all that He has planned for me. No one will see Him in me if I’m angry and hurtful all the time.
Second, I have to step back and try to put on my mercy glasses. These aren’t physical glasses. These are thoughts I choose to have toward someone I find hurtful or irritating. They would go something like this:
- She is as broken as you are. Let it go.
- He doesn’t know any better. Just take a deep breath and try again.
- She’s sandwiched…no, crushed…by kids, an ex, and a sick relative. She’s probably forgotten to eat and isn’t sleeping well. Give her what you’d want in her shoes.
- He looks exhausted and I remember his partner saying he’s been doing 60 or more hours a week for three weeks in support of a big project at work. He’ll be done soon, crash for a weekend, and be back to himself.
Finally, I have to choose to bless them somehow. It may be that I choose a small act of kindness or to leave a message of praise or encouragement. Or I may just whisper a simple prayer.
Of course, I know I’ve gone too far when my prayer starts to sound something like this:
God, please bless this child of yours with wisdom and grace. S/he doesn’t get that stadium lights have no long term value. It would have been far better for that money to have gone for science kits and math textbooks. After all, in 30 years, s/he will need a well trained doctor, and the stadium lights will have burned out, but that science kit will have sparked that oncologist who is working out an algebra equation to determine the proper chemo dose…
But that’s the beauty of the still, small Voice… He loves unconditionally and never sleeps when His children need to wrestle themselves into submission to His plans and guidelines.