So we left off from “The Pressure Cooker – Part 1,” with the thought that we need to know our design. God made us in an intimate way, knowing us before we were formed , “For you [God] formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:13-14 ESV
I find it awesome that our God and Creator of the universe took His time and effort to personally know us, to personally or Godally (yes I know is not a word, but it should be) “knit” the fabric of our being. Because He created us, I believe He knows what we are created for and what type of environment we are going to flourish in. To tie it all together, He knows the heat setting that’s best for us.
How much heat can we take? You may have heard the label of someone with a type A personality, that refers to someone who is highly driven or “successful”. And although these people may thrive in tough situations and may be able to get stuff done, that surely doesn’t guarantee that they can handle the heat very well. In many situations they are actually just plain stressed out and the “successful” and driven side is very often is a coverup, a sort of manifestation of a protective mechanism that this person is using to not deal with his or her past. They may truly be results driven, but many times there is unhealthy stress and pressure that needs to be removed.
Keep in mind this isn’t a dig at type A personalities, many have said that I am type A. But either way we all have our issues no matter our personality type of traits, “for [we] all have sinned, [are imperfect] and fall short of the glory of God” and need to be “justified [and set free] by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 ESV (emphasis added). So no matter the personality type you may have been told that you are, God’s diagnosis and prognosis is much greater, much better.
So, we should figure out a way to remove the pressure. Don’t get me wrong sometimes pressure cookers are great thing, even in our Christian lives, because the heat and pressure can break down really difficult challenges and help us get through tough obstacles, BUT the heat must be removed sometimes for some time. Did you catch that “sometimes for SOME TIME.” this isn’t just 15 minutes a day, although if that is all you can get at the beginning do it. Lets bring back our pressure cooker, if it is cooking away and that rocker is a rockin’ you can take it off for a short amount of time and the rocker will stop, but you can put it back on the burner and it almost immediately picks up where it left off. Why? Although the heat was taken away and the pressure dropped enough to keep the rocker form rocking there is still a massive amount of pressure built up in side. Typically the safety valve is still up even. Are you getting the analogy? The safety valve is telling everyone to stay away do not open up, because bad things will happen. The second you add that heat back it is on again and you truly haven’t received a break, you truly haven’t received freedom from that build up.
This is probably why God told us to honor the Sabbath. I think it is cool that he made it one of the Ten Commandments to get some rest, to chill out, relax and take a load off. I think He may have known what He was doing, what His creation was going to be like, what pressures we would feel especially under the fallen world we are in. It is time to chill and reduce the pressure, to take some time for some time to balance that pressure again. We will examine some ways to do that in Part 3. To be continued….
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.
Do not be afraid to let your guard down with those you love most. Jesus should be included in that group. Sing your heart out to God, be willing to make a fool of your self.
All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God ! Thank him to his face! He gets angry once in a while, but across a lifetime there is only love. The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.
God showed me this verse and it just screamed, “l am a man.” As men we know how to worship, it just seems that we put a wall up so others don’t see how we truly feel, especially when we are hurt or when we think we are not good at something. It may also be that we have never been taught how to express ourselves. Just act like your at a “_____” (fill in the blank with a band you love to listen to) concert and rock it out, sing your heart out to God. Just because your vocal cords don’t allow the words to keep the same pitch as a worship leader doesn’t mean your not pulling at the heart strings of God when you just let it go.
Extend this to your family and I think it is a great beginning to bettering your family. Where it says him put your wife and children’s names. When you get angry make sure it is over quickly, you talk to them, apologize and ask for forgiveness “to their face” afterwards. In addition make sure it is it is only once and a while, if it’s more than that help through a men’s group, local church or counselor can help. It is important how those you truly love, truly see you. You should want them to feel and say, much like the scripture above, “although he got angry once and a while, across his lifetime there was always love,” not vice versa. Do this and keep doing this and it will help the pain and bitterness in your house give way to days of laughter.
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you, I would love to hear from you.