A couple of Wednesdays ago, Pat Blythe delivered an invitation entitled “Control Freaks.” In his brief message he talked about our need to stop controlling everyone else and only be concerned with our own behaviors and attitudes. This lesson could not have been timelier for me. This past week I had to be mister mom and also dad. While this is not the first time I have had to watch the kids without Dawn, being a single parent, even if just for a week, is really stressful. While the drive home was mostly uneventful, I was not looking forward to the next morning and struggled to get out of bed. To make matters worse, my day started with a small fender bender. Inside, a heard a little voice crying out in anger. Of all weeks, of all days that I have to deal with an accident, it had to be today! That little voice caused a chain reaction in me. It was building and building to be a louder voice that was demanding action. I even heard that voice talk about how my rights had been impugned upon. I heard that voice talk about how the world was unjust and that if I don’t take matters into my own hands, I will regret it. (As I said, I really didn’t sleep well and I didn’t want to get out of bed). I then heard another voice. It was the voice of God’s reason. The voice that quotes scripture. The voice that said “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law (Gal. 5:22-23).”
Of course, there is more to self-control than simply saying I need to have self-control. There is more to controlling one’s temper than simply saying you need to control one’s temper. I had a father whose temper flare ups were legendary. I have seen him break things that most could not break because of his temper. It has plagued me to this day. He provided me with one of the worst examples by which I can live my life. I for years would use the excuse, I was raised that way. I for years used the excuse, I did not know any better. Then, one day someone shared something with me that hit me hard. It cut all the way through to my very soul. If I do not conquer my temper, I am setting my children up for failure. I cannot and will not allow my children to follow in those poor examples that I saw growing up. I want a better life for them. I want a better life for my future grandchildren. I wanted to break the chains that have gripped my heart for far too long. So, from that day forward I vowed to get better. I began working on it. Soon that became my battle cry. When I messed up. On really bad days, I would say “I’m working on it.” Do you know what happened next? “I’m working on it became an excuse. Several years later another friend said something quite profound in a men’s bible study. “If you are always working on it, it doesn’t get done.” Take my kitchen for instance, I am working on it, trying to repaint the cabinets. They are not done yet because, “I’m working on it.” When we claim we are working on things it is usually things that we know need done, but we are not willing to put the work into to accomplish the job. What we are really working on is the energy, desire, etc to get the task done. While we are working on it, my friend said, your children are growing up. It is time to stop “working on it” and just get the job done. So, here are a few steps in self-control that might be helpful for you.
Stop. Whatever you are doing. Whatever you are thinking; whatever you are saying, just stop. When I had that accident. I just pulled back into the driveway. Turned the car off. And took a few breaths before getting out and talking to the other driver. Taking time to stop keeps you from reacting.
Walk away.The last thing you need to do when feeling angry is to continue to be in the environment that made you mad in the first place. While I realize that this is not always possible, it really is a good thing to do. It provides you with ample time to deal with the issue in your heart.
Breathe. I remember this tip from health class in grade school. When getting angry take a few deep breaths. Count to ten. What I didn’t know until recently is that oxygen actually slows down the adrenaline rush. Excess adrenaline in the system causes shortness of breath, and almost anxiety like feelings. (This is why they tell you to take deep breaths when running. Oxygen keeps your body calm.)
Pray. If you are really feeling like you are justified in being angry, that is righteously angry, then let God know about it.In the end God is the only one with the power to do something about it. But, more importantly, God is the only one that can truly look at the situation without partial eyes. He will execute justice. Breathe and wait on the Lord. WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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Controlling Your Temper
Volume 8 Issue 8