Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"Let's go outside," or "Let it slide"?

I forgot my cell phone this morning. How do you respond when you forget things, when you make mistakes? I too often choose (I guess I should realize it is a choice) to beat myself down. "How stupid!" and "I'm such an idiot" come forth too easily. True, there are times when I'll be more decent to myself (and, I suppose, even times where I'll be too easy on myself).

My criticism also extends to others who have directly or indirectly wronged me. Too often (again) it's a reaction rather than a carefully thought out response. Which usually leads to an angry counter-reaction from those people, or they are totally oblivious to my anger. Either way, I must question whether my actions have led them to be more responsible, polite, etc. And I all the more must question whether I have glorified and pleased God (so many times I have been ashamed that I have a Christian fish symbol on my car after I have acted in a quite un-Christian manner).

I hate when I act so angrily toward myself and others. Rarely do I look back after the fact and say, "Boy, I'm glad I belittled myself," or "That idiot had it coming." Yes, I still want to get angry in a godly way, in a way that helps the person and the situation. I want to be led by the Holy Spirit, not my own flesh.

But why do I get so angry sometimes? Like I said above, it's so often a reaction--it explodes from me. I have snapped at my wife more than once; she was totally taken aback, since I'm usually so mild-mannered. I didn't sit there and carefully consider how my words would impact her or the situation, I just blurted them out. And then deeply regretted it.

So why do I snap? Why do I call myself and others hurtful names? Is it influenced by the fact that certain people did so to me during my childhood? Do I feel that by putting others down, I can make myself seem better (oh, and how often I have railed against those who climb on others backs to success!)? I wrote recently about how busyness keeps me from knowing myself better. This morning I was listening to an old sermon by Pastor Jack Hayford. The title was called, "Integrity of Heart." He said that it's not merely the sin that's the problem, it's when we don't listen to our heart speaking the truth as to how it's doing, and what it needs. I may try to make myself think that I'm helping the situation by yelling at a driver, but deep down I might just want to hurt that person's spirit. Of course, when I react rather than carefully respond, I don't allow myself time to consider my motives. Or, to dig even deeper, I might be ashamed of my own inadequacy in a certain area, so therefore I need to falsely elevate myself by "proving" to myself how bad the other person is.

Do you find that how you respond to your own mistakes parallels or differs from how you respond to the mistakes of others? What is at the core of your responses? Do you usually have a well thought out and helpful response? Or are you still struggling with reacting in hurtful anger? Or maybe you're still reacting improperly, but you've learned some things. In any event, I'd love to hear from you, and pray with you so that we all may grow toward Christlikeness.



At 15:26, Blogger Gone Away said...

Maybe it's age creeping on or just tiredness but I find I don't often react with anger these days. I'm even quite forgiving of my own weaknesses! It helps to know that God has forgiven us for much more than we are aware of, and the least we can do in return is to follow His example in our dealings with others. :)

At 15:29, Blogger cmmdtp said...

Good post...I find myself snapping at my wife often and I regret it as soon as it happens. Hard to control sometimes. More prayer is needed.

By the way, you may find this post on Kairos Prison Ministry interesting. I noticed you are minister at youth detention center. http://3isthecharm.blogspot.com/2005/12/kairos-prison-ministry.html


At 17:22, Blogger Jeff said...

Clive, you are so right. I know that the more I become like Jesus, the better I'll handle those trying situations.

Mike, may the Lord help you during those times. And thanks for the link. I'm not an official minister, just a volunteer, but I'm sure the link can benefit me.

At 19:20, Blogger Richard P. Janke said...

Jeff, I, too, have a temper that I don't always control. But like the person making the first comment (Clive?), I also find the Lord blessing me by giving me less energy to display my temper as I grow older. In many ways and at many times it is an example of growing smarter too late.

Thanks for great encouragement.

At 01:16, Blogger eph2810 said...

Hm, sometimes I brew things in my head, but they mostly stay there. I usually take a deep breath, look to Christ to give me wisdom and maybe than I say something. But most of the time I am just quiet. I think too, that we all fall short of the Glory of God and that I am just as bad as the next person. But then again, even if I don't speak evil, I still think evil - so not sure if that is any better than bursting out...Thanks for the post - it's again a great one.

At 10:47, Blogger Jeff said...

Thanks, Richard. I'm nearing middle-age, which I thought I should dread, but maybe like you and Clive, I should be thankful!

Eph, I have harbored anger silently and vented it. You are so right in realizing we all fall short of God's glory. That's something I'm well aware of; sadly, it's too often moments after I've done my ranting.

At 14:30, Anonymous OldGuy said...

Hey Jeff

I too find myself snapping back at people sometimes. There's no excuse for it except that I'm short tempered and have to work on curbing that on a daily basis.

What works for me (sometimes) in not snapping back is thinking about how hard it can be to repair the damage and how it just wrecks the peace around the house when it happens.

At 10:17, Blogger Jeff said...

OldGuy, so true. And since as a Christian I am "an ambassador of Christ," how I represent Him can be tarnished by my carelessness.


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