Let me be transparent: I am not perfect (I know…shock and awe!)…and I get angry sometimes (crazy, I know!)…and sometimes I let that anger affect the way I treat the people around me (yep, it’s true!). On the chance that you can relate, how about we process this a bit together?
It feels like my fuse has gotten shorter over the past couple of years, but I think what’s actually happened is I’ve made a transition from just simply bottling my anger inside (hoping I wouldn’t explode, but eventually, inevitably, I would)…to now, where I am doing less bottling and more immediate exploding as I let anger lead my thinking, my words and my attitude. Neither option is really a great way to go, but at least I’m in a place now where I’m seeing when I get angry and, usually, why, rather than being surprised when I suddenly release the inner bottle of acquired ickiness all over everyone.
So, here are a few adjustments I’m making as I bounce and bump down this road:
1. Adjusting my expectations. My anger almost always comes because my expectations don’t line up with reality. For example: I may expect my kids to walk sedately through the house and speak with inside-voices when inside at all times. Well…this is just simply not reality with 4 and 6 year-olds in the house. I may expect them to maturely work out their disagreements with calm words…But that’s not really realistic either at their ages all the time. I may expect that I can tackle my entire to-do list in a day, but then I find myself angry with myself at the end of the day when the dishes have piled up, I still haven’t made it to the grocery store and we didn’t even touch schoolwork today. Now, I’m not saying we need to lower expectations to a point that we never strive for greatness…absolutely not! What I am saying is that I don’t need to expect perfection. I’m not perfect…neither are my children, my family members, my friends, the world I live in…even my husband, though he is very close (wink, wink).
2. Pause…Breathe…Repeat. When I feel anger creeping its way through me, I’ve found I need to take a pause and a very deep breath…or two…or twelve…before I start talking. Notice, I said “talking“…not “shouting“. It’s not too effective when I shout out to my kiddos across the house, “Stop shouting, right now!” Probably doesn’t send the right message…hmmm.
3. Receive grace…Give grace. So much of my frustration is often directed at myself because I haven’t fulfilled my expectations of perfection that day. I have to start giving myself more grace by receiving the grace that God gives me so freely. He doesn’t expect perfection out of me…so why am I harder on myself than He is on me? And when I have received His grace, and given it to myself too, it’s that much easier to give it out to everyone else. Grace to my growing and constantly learning children…grace to the driver in front of me who’s going a tad slower than I’d prefer…grace to my husband when he is stuck at work a little late.
I am an imperfect perfectionist whom God is transforming into a grace-giving realist. It is a messy and uncomfortable process. But He’s giving me precious glimpses of what can be if I’ll take this bottle of anger and this sharp tongue and set them into His hands to totally reshape.
If you relate at all, I encourage you today to set down your expectations of perfection…pause and take a breath…and receive grace so that you can freely give it. My prayer for today, for you and for me is that we can become people who aren’t led by anger, but who can let our anger show us areas of our lives that need God’s touch…and that we would open that door wide for Him to enter in with His grace and His transformation.