Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thorns in our sides...

I found this verse this afternoon that really spoke volumes to my heart:

Colossians 3:21 (New International Version*)
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

I put together a new little spiralbound index card "book" for Logan & me today, while he was at a babysitter's. It is verses the two of us can learn together, since we both have "anger issues." I am hoping that Logan can learn to control his anger now for a healthy future. I never did get mine under control--until married life forced the issue. Get control or lose your marriage! So, although I still struggle and no one can say I don't have anger issues, there has been vast improvement. It's been years since I've thrown something in anger, for example. Logan does that regularly, so he didn't pick it up from his parents--but from the energy that anger takes on all by itself...a force within you that can overwhelm your sensibilities.

Anger is a funny thing. It is a valid & justifiable emotion--a reaction to the environment not fitting our needs. But it must be held captive & controlled. I've discussed this issue with many friends--some only bottle their anger; they never confront others, but find some other out of control habit to deal with their emotion instead. Some are like me, verbal! We have a lot to say--boy do we ever. Our words really get us into trouble sometimes. Then there are those who learn to express themselves calmly, even when they are really upset--and they never seem to have known rage. I don't understand the mind of these people--how do they keep their heads about them all the time? I've known rage--and it is among the deadly sins that God says must be replaced with peace & self-control. There I go again with my Verse of the Year. The Fruits of the Spirit.

Here's where learning a "mantra" can help. Today Logan was losing his temper a little, so I helped him grab it right away by saying, "You know, that isn't kind, is it? Remember, we are supposed to practice Peace, Pay..." and he finished my word for me, "Patience..." He is LEARNING his first scripture! I recited all of the words & he helped me finish them--I left self-control for last & he knew the words. Let it be Galatians 5:22, then--that is a great Life Verse for both of us. I wrote it up on our new index cards so we can work on this issue together, and I put some graphics next to each word.

Love (a heart, of course), joy, (a super smiling face with squinty eyes), peace (the peace sign, because it's universally recognizable), patience (a clock face), kindness (a hand holding out a gift box), goodness (a gently smiling face), faithfulness (the cross), gentleness (a petting hand), and self-control (two hands with interlocked fingers).

One day my mom was at a grocery store & overheard another mother with her young child. The child was doing what all parents dread in a large public warehouse-sized space--melting down. So the mother leaned down & gently said into her child's face, "Pull yourself together." Mom loved that & told me about it, so we've used it ever since. Tom or I will ask Logan to pull himself together & he puts his hands together with fingers interlocked--sometimes so tightly they could almost turn white. Then I guide him to take a deep breath, and slowly exhale. It matters.

Now, to practice this myself! It helps to have another person guide you when that Anger Monster grabs ahold of you. I've tried to coach Tom to be that counselor to me. "Lis, pull yourself together. Take a deep breath. Let's try that again." But, he more typically just gets mad at me for being mad. Well, we'll keep working on it, and maybe Logan will be a better helpmate to me in this one area since it'll be our Struggle together.

2 Corinthians 12:7a (NIV)*
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh...

Ephesians 40:31 & 32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage & anger, brawling & slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind & compassionate to each other, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Colossians 3:8
But now you must rid yourself of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander & filthy language from your lips.

You got it. I get it. Now, to put this into practice!! I need the Help of the Holy Spirit. Amen?

*Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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