Friday, September 20, 2013
As we were coming back to our Department Offices after a work meeting at another building, my colleagues and I were congratulating ourselves on how well the meeting went and how much we were able to control our emotions while discussing controversial issues with the other team. Our Dean, who is married to one of the professors in the group made an interesting comment: “it’s funny how we are able to be patient, remain calm and be gracious to people we are not attached to, but we have no problem being hurtful to those who are closest to us.”
The comment hit a cord in my heart since I’ve been thinking about my own experience and how stingy I am with grace. I have no problem basking in God’s grace which He extends to me in an unlimited supply on a daily basis. But when it comes to me extending even a meager measure of that same grace to my loved ones; I tighten up. And the areas where I’m the least generous are patience and forgiveness.
I praise God over and over again for the immeasurable amount of patience He lavishes onto me constantly. I am also eternally grateful for the forgiveness that He has so lovingly granted me thanks to the payment in full of my debt, cancelled by Jesus on the cross. But then, when the tables turn, and it is my time to be patient and/or forgive those closest to me, I just become a hoarder. The smallest offense, the slightest perception of the tiniest hint of dissent sets me off and not only sparks, but full blown flames and other things ignite out of control.
Although I know the Holy Spirit is hard at work in me, I have yet to learn the art of self-control around the ones I love most. So today I decided to think about one thing, just one for now, that I can do when I feel impatience and anger lighting up inside of me. What is the one thing I can do, with the help of the Spirit who strengthens me, to avoid falling into the vortex of over-reaction while dealing with my beloved? What I came up with is not original. It is actually something my husband keeps repeating to me over and over and over again every time I fall out of control. What I can do is to immediately remember that the person (man or child as it often is the case in my life) on the other end of the “discussion” does not have bad will against me.
I know that for a fact! Neither my husband nor my sons have bad will against me. They love me. They don’t plot evil ways to exasperate me every day. They actually have good will and they want us to be in happy harmony. So if I know that, then I just need to remember it every time they unintentionally do something that bothers me…-granted the fact that once in a while they DO do stuff purposely to annoy me-…but in all other cases, it is not their intention to make me mad. Far from it, they really don’t like it when I am angry, since I have the Hulk complex and they get very afraid when I turn green!
At any rate, this is the one thing I will attempt next time. When I sense myself getting impatient and about to begin to boil off the top, I will try to remember that my boys do have good will toward me, and so do I. I hope this helps me to at least contemplate the possibility to stop the anger right on its tracks and back off the issue until I calm down.
Back at our building, as I was walking toward my office by myself, I over-heard my boss and her husband lovingly teasing each other on how they should apply the lessons from work into their personal life and relationship. I pray I too can apply this lesson the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me next time I’m facing the opportunity to extend grace to those I love the most.