“I’m a terrible mom!”
Do you ever say these words? I do. I did that day. The day I was working in my office, minding my own business, when my oldest son threw a paper airplane at the back of my head. Not one to normally welcome an air attack, I gave him the stern “mom voice,” and asked him to stop messing around. I asked him to give me some private time so I could get some work done. He agreed, and turned to leave.
Surprisingly, he then jumped around and threw it at me again! Well, let me tell you, my grace-o-meter was reading pretty low at this point! I barked like an angry dog. “What in the world do you think you are doing? I just told you that I needed to be left alone so I can get some work done! Stop it!”
“But Mom, there’s a message on the plane,” he tenderly replied. “Read it.”
As I unfolded the airplane made of orange construction paper, I saw this message written in pink marker: “Mom, I Love You.”
His affectionate declaration was followed by a few X’s and O’s.
You know: hug, hug, kiss, kiss.
“Nice!” I said to myself. “Loser-mom strikes again.” I had scolded my son and reacted out of frustration with an unkind tone. All the while, my son was trying to communicate love to me.
I felt horrible. Time stood still as I began to beat myself up.
Shame began to fill my heart… but as it did the Spirit of God within me gently nudged – reminding me that condemnation is not from Him. His conviction is always purposed to spur me on toward choosing a godly response.
So I chose love – God’s love alive in me.
As I chose God’s better way, the grace way, His love trumped my anger. It’s weightier. Praise God!
I called my son back into the office and apologized for my behavior. I invited my tall, lanky teenager to sit on my lap and told him that – while I’m not particularly fond of airplane attacks, especially while I’m working, I am fond of love attacks. We held each other and had a very sweet moment.
As Preston and I hugged, God reminded me of this principle: When we allow His love to trump our anger, we are able to experience restoration in relationships.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:19-20 NIV).
The Bible tells us that we are to be slow to anger. It is a lesson that I am still learning. Now, that doesn’t mean we should never be angry. Jesus exhibited righteous anger in the Jerusalem temple when he drove out the merchants that were buying and selling there. Righteous anger is permissible. We should be angry about sin and injustice. But when we respond to others in anger, it becomes our sin.
Got any relationships that are in need of restoration? Is there any anger, unforgiveness, or bitterness in your heart that might be gaining a stronghold in your life and keeping you from God’s best?
The benefits of allowing the love of God to trump the anger in your heart are tremendous, but the application can be very challenging. We can’t overcome our natural, sinful tendencies to react, and overreact, in anger alone. We need God’s help. His strength will meet us at our weakness when we call on Him. The Holy Spirit helps us to respond in God’s strength instead of our own.
Join me in calling on His strength to love well today.
Holy Father, Thank you for leading me in Your way of grace. I need Your help! I confess my anger/bitterness/unforgiveness right now with _______________. Please forgive me. Please bring restoration to the relationships that have been affected by my anger. Help me recognize when I over-react or when I respond in anger that is ungodly. Give me the strength to respond in love – to be slow to speak and quick to listen – so that You can be glorified through my behavior. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE: Do you need to trade anger for love? In what relationships? How? Spend a few moments in confession and ask God to bring a fresh awareness to your soul each time you react in anger.
Are you in a Bible study? Knowing God’s Word is essential to growing in faith. Join a local Bible study today, or begin reading a book of the Bible on your own. Try reading the book of James this week. It’s only five chapters. Will you join me in reading James? If so, leave a comment below making a public commitment: “I’m reading James with you!”