Thursday, February 23, 2017

Stop, Think, and Feel


Whoever is patient has great understanding, 
but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.  
Proverbs 14:29 NIV

God has been working on me and my patience as I've gotten older. He continues to show me more and more of how foolish I appear when I am angry. A recent sermon that I heard at our church was on the topic of anger and how to rid your life of anger. It was tremendous because the most important thing I gleaned from that sermon was the fact that my ANGER is ALWAYS the band-aid on top of a different emotion.  

Take for example my experience recently in trying to start a dialogue with a number of different people in our state assembly or even those in my own city regarding Rare Disease Day. I had sent in my proclamation request to the state in the month of November and had e-mailed a number of different people in the middle of January trying to drum up enthusiasm for the event. However, I found that I wasn't getting responses from anyone!

I was so ANGRY. I had that feeling of, "Of course, here we go...no one cares."

Thankfully, the sermon came at JUST the right time because, rather than send ANGRY e-mails as I really, REALLY wanted to, I stopped and thought:  

WHAT EMOTION IS MY ANGER TRYING TO COVER UP?

I determined it was covering frustration, and possibly even fear.  

So, rather than send an ANGRY e-mail, I sent an e-mail that said something more like this.  
"I was just following up to see if you received my e-mail in January regarding Rare Disease Day (see attached). I have hopes of starting a conversation with lawmakers about what we can do in this state to help families who live with rare diseases. The most frustrating part of being the parent of a child with a rare disease is that I often feel as though I don't have a voice. Well, Rare Disease Day is an opportunity to change that, but I can't be heard unless someone responds to my message, and I haven't heard back yet from anyone. Please consider responding to this e-mail so I know I'm being heard."

I had a phone call before the day was over and even met to have coffee with the assemblyman who received this message.  

Had I responded in ANGER, I wonder if I would have received the same response...

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he says, "In your ANGER do not sin..." (4:26 NIV with emphasis added).  I think this says a lot.  It reminds us that we are human and we WILL FEEL ANGER. But, Paul says, "Don't sin because of your anger."

So, if we STOP, THINK, and IDENTIFY WHAT WE FEEL...I think we will be less likely to SIN in our ANGER.

I consider, for example, about the times when I have lost my cool at the pharmacy, or yelled at someone in the billing department at a specialists office...what was I REALLY feeling besides ANGER?

Hopelessness, helplessness, and even pointlessness.

When I have had the wherewithal to EXPRESS that verbally, I seemed to have gotten farther without burning a bridge that I may need to use in the future. Rather than, 
"Are you kidding me? You filled the WRONG PRESCRIPTION again? Will you ever get it right?" 
 What if I said, 
"Oh my goodness, I feel so helpless right now because it seems like every time I call in this prescription you have gotten wrong. How can we fix this? I'm afraid this is a vicious cycle that we will never be able to fix, and I need it to be done right for my daughter's health."
Now I'm not saying that this will ALWAYS work. But, what I am saying is that God wants us to show that we are Christians through the fruits of the Spirit, and ANGER is NOT from the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

I encourage all of us to consider the times that we have responded in ANGER and try to identify the actual emotions we were feeling and how the anger was a way that we were trying to protect ourselves. Now, think about how you could have reacted differently without anger, and rather tried to express those true emotions. If you can identify them in hindsight as I now can, maybe you too will be able to STOP, THINK and FEEL the next time you are faced with a situation in which you would have instinctively responded in ANGER.

Pray:  Heavenly Father, I ask your forgiveness for the anger that I have let take hold of my heart. I know that you want MORE for me than that. I pray that you help me temper my anger by identifying where it really comes from and then learning how to express myself more effectively with those emotions. Amen.  

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