Everyone has a red button. It just depends on what (and how much) it takes to actuate that little toggle that sends us into febrile convulsions of heated emotion.
Recently, on a day when I was praising myself for my efficiency around the home, I suffered the indignity of washing a disposable nappy (diaper) with a load of clothes. As soon as I approached the washing machine, and saw inside, I had that instant sinking feeling. Having just put my son to bed, I was sizing up a full hour or two to do some discretionary work; something I actually enjoy and not the housework.
It took a little while, but soon I started to really get annoyed with myself. Shaking each item of clothing several times before I could peg them on the line, I found it was a messy, not to mention an unnecessary, job. If there’s one thing that presses my red ‘anger’ button it’s the accumulation of senseless tasks.
Yet, suddenly as I began to vent, I remembered a promise I made to myself. The Holy Spirit has evoked curiosity in my approach to anger over the past week or so, due mainly to some material discussed in pastoral supervision. At the time I didn’t want to admit I had a problem with anger; pride initiated by fear was my potential stumbling block. But as soon as I did admit that my anger was pressing in upon me, affecting some of my closest relationships, I felt God breathe fresh life and hope into me, in order for me to deal with it.
I tend to be quite a serious person, and the angrier I get the more serious I become. The Holy Spirit said, “You need to pour contempt on your pride by laughing at yourself.” As a result of doing this at the clothesline God’s Spirit dissolved my anger and I saw how pathetic I would have been had I allowed this learning opportunity to derail my moment. As I shook those clothes out, one by one, I thought not about the time I was wasting, but about finishing the task, and the health I felt just by looking at the situation differently.
Anger is easily resolved if we step back a little. Choosing to find something to laugh about can work on many occasions. Choosing to see the moment as a test of our temperament to overcome can also work.
When we understand that anger and aggression harm relationships, we are motivated to surrender our emotion to God. The Lord can do what we cannot do. The Spirit can change our attitude and approach in an instant.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.