Be Ye Angry and Sin Not

Ephesians 4:26 (BBE) Be angry without doing wrong; let not the sun go down on your wrath;

I have often wondered what adherence to the above passage looks like. Usually when I see someone angry, he or she behaves in ways that I would consider sinful. I include myself in that, of course. I might say something hateful, be sarcastic, or speak unkindly about someone. It has been difficult for me to imagine what anger without sin looks like.

Until the other day when I was visiting my daughter Rachel, that is. We were fixing to go out back to play. Elijah was dressed and Rachel was getting Abby ready. I noticed that Eli’s face was torn up so I asked him what was wrong.

“I’m mad at Mama,” he said. He walked into the hallway where Rachel was working with Abby. He stood there patiently, waiting for Rachel to look at him. When she did, he pulled back his arms, holding them straight, and bent over and gave her an angry look that–well, it was a look that a mother can bear but it would break the heart of a grandmother and send her home crying. Then he walked back into the living room and sat down on the couch.

I was surprised and pleased by his behavior. I said, “I like how you showed your anger, Eli. Very good job.” He hadn’t said an unkind word, he hadn’t thrown a toy, he hadn’t stormed off pouting, and it was all over. Nothing had to be fixed–Rachel didn’t do anything to make him happy nor did she discipline him.

Now, some might say an almost-four-year-old child shouldn’t look angrily at his parents and that even that is wrong. But I was impressed. I hope I can learn from my grandson to make my anger known in a calm and acceptable manner, without any harsh words that tend to make matters worse and without expecting anything from the other person. We have control only over ourselves. We can’t force others to do what we want; we can let them know how we feel, and then we need to do as Eli did and walk away.

6.22.13

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Seize the Day!

One day while FaceTiming with my grandson Jonathan, I asked him, “What are you going to do today?”

He replied, “I don’t know what’s going to happen today so I can’t know what I’m going to do.”

I thought that was insightful for a seven-year-old. And it reminded me of the following verse in the Bible.

Proverbs 27:1 (WEB)  Don’t boast about tomorrow; For you don’t know what a day may bring forth.

Jonathan has taken that a step further. He refuses to boast even about today since he realizes that he doesn’t know what so much as a few hours might bring forth. Nor does he know what he might have to do in reaction to unknown events that might occur.

I like Jonathan’s attitude! I think we can learn several lessons from him.

1. Be mentally prepared, aware that change can come at any moment. 

Sometimes we go through life believing it will always be as it is. Of course that is impossible, but it doesn’t keep us from thinking that way. While we can’t always be on the lookout for the next shoe to drop–never able to enjoy life–we can recognize that life does change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse (both of which can cause stress or a feeling of uneasiness or reluctance to roll with the flow). Being prepared mentally helps us not be as disappointed, or perhaps even broken, when the inevitable change comes. Instead we can face it with grace and dignity and a heart to accept whatever is.

2. Be willing to adapt to new circumstances and take on a new task or new way of life.

We must not only prepare ourselves mentally but when the time comes we must take positive action. As the Brady Bunch kids sang, “When it’s time to change then it’s time to change.” We have to get up off the couch and clean up the mess from the ketchup bottle that exploded or take the time to rejoice with our child because he built a ten-block tower, giving him our undivided attention and the praise that he needs. And, yes, if we lose our job or our house or even a loved one, no matter how we feel we have to cope and work to make life tolerable. It’s not easy to be ready for any event, and we can’t always be. But as much as is possible we should try to handle whatever situation faces us each day.

3. Enjoy the moment. 

We never know when a particular “last time” will come, so we can’t know how significant any given moment is, as sometimes events take on new meaning in retrospect. We wouldn’t want to miss the significance of a last day with our loved one nor would we want our last words to be full of whining or gossip or hatefulness. Also, we find peace and contentment in living in the moment. Dwelling on the past can be painful, and looking to the future can be scary. We need to do with all our might what our hand finds to do right now (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. So we ought to “seize the day” (carpe diem!), savoring each smile, each kiss, each hug, each taste of ice cream or each marble that rolls down the marble run. Today is, after all, the only day we have.

I don’t know what Jonathan is doing right now. But whatever it is, I know he’s all up in it! And because of him, I want to be all up in my day too!

Tina Rae Collins

7.8.13