There is a song out there in the endless black hole of music called “Therapy Session” by NF. Its grittiness is not for everyone, but I like to listen to it every once in a while when I need a way to bear up under certain intense emotions. Giving myself the space and time to feel these particular emotions allows for a necessary release of internal pressure – much like a whistling tea kettle releasing the steam off of boiling water. Unfortunately, my water tends to boil more often than I’d care to admit.
Irritation, impatience, frustration, irrational expectations, and a desire to control are all close companions of mine. We cycle through seasons in our relationships- some taking more prominent positions than others. Every once in a while they are relegated to the backseat, forced into temporary submission when I finally decide to get on my face in prayer. Eventually, though, they find an opening, a moment of weakness, and storm the gates. Almost always I allow them back for another round because in the moment it feels familiar and comfortable to express myself in those ways. I can’t be alone in this, though, right? There have to be others of you out there… I hope…
The truth is, I get angry at myself for being the way that I am. Although I embrace my fire, knowing it’s the way God designed me, I often channel it in all the wrong ways. Y’all… I get angry about being angry. At times it would almost be comical if I wasn’t leaving a path of destruction behind my tornado and confused children asking me to please not be mad anymore. It’s heartbreaking, really. It’s so, so defeating.
“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” –Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NIV)
It’s hard to admit that I’m a fool. Don’t we all want to be wise? Or at least perceived by others as wise? That is what makes it easy for me to maintain my composure in public places versus at home. I am the person I want to be when in public in the presence of strangers and friends, but only on the outside. My family often bears the brunt of the hurt later. It’s those that are closest to us that we tend to hurt the most, right? (And just to be clear, I’m not talking about physical abuse. That has no presence in our home.)
But I see the effect my behavior and reactions are having on my kids and marriage. I am not blind to it. Especially in my oldest son who is only 4 years old. The way he deals with his frustration and anger is like looking in mirror. I spend many nights in bed, eyes dripping tears, grieving over the tools I am handing him to build his own path. I want to change. I want to end the cycle. It’s a broken record that I’m ready to throw in the garbage.
So I have created a goal for myself this week. I read a quote once that says, “Anger is a feeling that makes your mouth work faster than your mind.” This is true for me. I cannot break this habit in one week, but I can start by taking one step in the right direction. When I feel frustration and irritation rushing in to turn my heart cold and blind my eyes red, I will immediately stop. I will close my eyes. I will take a breath. Then I will speak the name of Jesus. It takes but a moment, but the name of Jesus is a powerful one. Then I will open my eyes and trust that God’s presence will guide my next steps. It’s a hopeful beginning for a new way of being.
The entire process of rewiring my brain to respond instead of react will most likely be a long one. But the faces and hearts of my family are there to remind me that it will be worth the pain of being broken down to be rebuilt. They deserve my best self… or at least a better self.
The truth that I’m offering here is this: If this describes you, even just a little bit, it’s not too late to work towards change. I promise. And though the work of it all may seem overwhelming when you look at the end result from a distance, the fact is that all you have to do is take it one moment at a time. And breathe. Thinking about this process of transformation even on a day-to-day basis causes a hellish anxiety to swell in my chest. I don’t want to fail! That’s why it’s so important to live in the moment of each day. Don’t look ahead and don’t turn around- face what’s right in front of you. Then breathe. Take control over it. Overcome it. Move on to the next moment. That’s my plan anyway.
Is anger an issue for you as well? I invite you to share your story. Or if you have found other practical approaches to breaking your own cycle I would love to hear about them in the comments below. Suggestions on reading and listening material are also welcome!
Thanks for joining with me in this candid entry.
Peace & Love, Amy