Archives For Anger

Don’t Be a Fool

April 1, 2015 — Leave a comment

Proverbs 29 verse 11

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Me and Cauri

My daughter recently went with me to a speaking engagement where I shared the journey of my pregnancy with her (you can read about it here). It was one of the most distraught times of my life. Although Cauri had heard the story many times, she had never heard the feelings I experienced during that time. It moved her to tears to know I loved her so much.

And that broke my heart.

I realized although I sometimes share reasons for my teaching or discipline with her, many times I don’t share what I’m feeling.

So my dear, darling, challenging daughter, I want to share with you what I feel almost on a daily basis raising you.

I wake in the mornings and feel worried.

Worried that your heart will be hurt by unkind peers or impatient teachers.

Unfortunately, as the morning continues, I feel angry.

After fighting to get you out of bed, we argue about running late, lost homework, complaints about nothing to take for lunch, and leaving a huge mess in the kitchen for mom to clean since you “don’t have time.”

When you leave for school, I feel relieved.

Relieved we have time to get over ourselves and come back together in the evening for a fresh start.

Relief quickly turns to sadness.

Sadness that I am the one who caused you hurt before the day even had a chance to begin.

The day is then spent feeling helpless.

Helpless as I wonder about your day. How the test is going for which you spent so much time studying, if your friend is still upset with you and turning mutual friends against you, if the bully who sits behind you in two classes is calling you “stupid,” again, about your decisions and if they are wise or made out of emotion. And knowing you’re dealing with all of it away from me and beyond my help or rescue.

By the time you waltz in from school and you look content and happy, I feel reassured.

Reassured all went well during the day.

Reassurance quickly turns to feeling irritable.

Irritable from the complaints over what I’m making for supper, from all the arguing between you and your siblings, from all the things I’m trying to remember: which kids have activities, who is driving what carpool, everything on my to-do list that did not get finished earlier in the day, how much homework each of you has for the evening, calls or emails I need to return before the evening is over. I’m irritable and don’t listen well. I’m short with my words and yell.

As the evening progresses, I feel tired.

Tired from not knowing how to help with homework, from not knowing how to give you direction with your life question, from the sibling arguments, from disrespectful talk toward your dad and me, from feeling unappreciated after having worked at my job and on the house and taking care of all your needs throughout the day, tired from my brain working in overdrive, and tired from all those feelings I’ve been experiencing.

When the evening is over and we all go to bed, I feel guilt.

Guilt over not handling your questions well, not listening when you were trying to tell me something important, saying things to you I shouldn’t have, not having all the answers to your needs.

And guilt for feeling worried, angry, relieved, helpless, irritable, and tired. All of which reminds me of my shortcomings as a mom.

I leave my bed to check on you sleeping kids and I feel thankful.

Thankful God gave me such wonderful kids, thankful all of you are tucked safely in your beds in our warm house, thankful you made a decision to accept Christ’s sacrifice and are guaranteed eternal life, thankful you are mine.

I feel thankful and I kiss you on the forehead as you sleep.

And then I pray! I give all of my feelings and all those things out of my control to God.

Through it all, I feel indescribable love for you.

But know love is MORE than a feeling. While feelings change, my love for you never does! And that love, dear child, will never be compromised!

Pearl Buck quote

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© 2015 Connie Davis Johnson

Can Anger be Controlled?

January 24, 2013 — 7 Comments

Anger can sometimes get the best of us.  Children disobey, people criticize our kids, drivers cut us off and then drive 5 mph under the speed limit, a person may budge in line after we’ve been waiting 20 minutes.  There are a lot of life situations that can not only irk us but make us downright furious.

78653095Foolish decisions are often made in anger.  We may say or do something we will later regret.  We may also cause divisions among people with our anger.

The following are instructions from the bible on how to deal with anger.  I’m praying God will help me follow these guidelines whenever anger materializes.  Care to join me?

Listen more than speak and try to understand other points of view.  

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  ~ James 1:19-20 (NIV)

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heartof fools.  ~ Ecclesiastes 7:9 (ESV)

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.  ~ Proverbs 29:20 (ESV)

If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.  ~ Proverbs 18:30 (ESV)

Think before speaking since foolishness or wisdom will be on full display. 

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.  ~ Proverbs 29:11 (NIV)

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.  ~ Proverbs 19:11 (ESV)

A quick-tempered person does foolish things, and the one who devises evil schemes is hated.  ~ Proverbs 14:17 (NIV)

Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding; a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.  ~ Proverbs 14:29 (MSG)

Stay calm and answer gently.

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.  ~ Proverbs 15:18 (NIV)

A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.  Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.  ~ Matthew 12:36–37 (NKJV)

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  ~ Proverbs 12:18 (ESV)

Don’t take revenge and forgive quickly.

Go ahead and be angry.  You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry.  Don’t go to bed angry.  Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.  ~ Ephesians 4:26-27 (MSG)

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord.  ~ Romans 12:19 (NIV)

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  ~ Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.  ~ 1 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

Treat others how you want to be treated, even when angry.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.  Luke 6:31 (NIV)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Romans 12:21 (NIV)

Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.  ~Proverbs 17:9 (ESV)

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.  ~ 1 John 4:20-21 (ESV)

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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

War and terrorists have become everyday language.  Our media rarely covers stories of the extraordinary individuals serving in the military anymore.  Although we appreciate our military, they are not always at the forefront of our minds.  And yet these heroes continue to work in many different capacities keeping us safe, preserving our freedom, and defending those who can’t defend themselves.

Many soldiers do not share their stories because they become vulnerable and civilians are unable to grasp the full effect of a soldier’s feelings, environment, and decisions.  They prefer to relate to fellow veterans who have a clear understanding.  So it is a true honor when a veteran is willing to share.  It allows us a small glimpse into the personal feelings, living conditions, and difficult decisions soldiers live with daily.

My nephew, Timothy Livengood, serves as a physician with the US Army.  While serving in Iraq, he sent a letter to family and friends that gave us a peak into some of the struggles that plagued him as a Christian physician serving in a war zone.  In honor of all of our Veteran’s serving now and in the past, Timothy agreed to share his letter with you:

Dr. Timothy Livengood

Imagine you’re a physician or other healthcare professional taking care of soldiers brought in after an attack.  Let me paint more of a picture with some background.  Every once in a while the terrorists or so-called militias will fire rockets or mortars into American bases.  We call it indirect fire.  Some of these attacks are more coordinated than others.  Recently we had one such attack.

Now put yourself in our shoes.  Morning.  We get word that a base close to us has been hit.  Several casualties are brought to us.  They all have significant burns.  One of them is paralyzed and in shock.  Taking care of patients like this is very different for most of us.  Oh we’ve seen burns before.  We’ve seen plenty of gunshot wounds and sick trauma patients.  But in the States, the majority of trauma patients we see tend to bring their injuries on themselves.  Even with those who aren’t at fault, it’s not hard for us to compartmentalize–to focus on the injuries and shift the patient’s identity and humanity to the back of our minds, at least until the acute life- or limb-threat is over.  But this is a different population.

Ideally, based on the higher calling we all think we have as medical personnel, you would think we would see all patients the same.  Not so. These aren’t semi-anonymous victims of motor vehicle collisions.  These are universally our people.  Each one is one of us.  They represent us. We always, always see them as victims, and almost always we realize that their fate could be ours.  On top of that, they’re usually kids relative to us, and we look at them with respect and extreme compassion.

They weren’t the only ones.  Several died or were taken to other locations.  We only got some of the more severely injured ones.  They weren’t out looking for trouble.  If you talk to senior leadership or the politicians who are keeping us here, this isn’t a “combat zone.”  Read: we don’t get to fight back.  Most were hit as they were sleeping in their housing units, or they were hit as they ran to their bunkers.  Victims.  More emotions come into play besides compassion.  Anger rises as we attempt to ease their pain and as we work to save their lives and limbs.  Seeds of hatred begin to be sown.

We hear that one of the terrorists blew himself and his vehicle up and we all but cheer.  At least one less rocket killing our helpless friends and at least one less misguided (or idiotic, evil, cowardly, brainwashed . . . choose your own adjective) militant to launch another attack.  Frustration wells up at the idea that so many of us are stuck here in some nebulous non-mission, essentially making us nothing but targets who can’t fight back.  Naturally, on some level, fear enters the picture for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. Whether or not we admit its presence, it has a synergistic effect with those other negative emotions.

Somehow, we pull through it.  The patients go to the OR, then to the wards, and then are quickly evacuated out of theater for more definitive care.  We go back to our mostly boring shifts or back to our beds, but those feelings fester or at least linger.

Now picture taking care of one of those responsible for the attack.  A few hours after the event I just described, special forces medics bring in a detainee.  He’d been injured while trying to fight our soldiers, and they brought him in for care.  The mechanism of injury and the severity of the wound aren’t the issues here.  The guy was stable.  He was going to do fine.  And that was kind of the problem.

Imagine taking care of this person.  It might not be so easy, as the reader, to think back and take all the emotions I previously listed and project them on this patient.  Conversely for those of us in that situation, it was extremely difficult not to do just that.  The fear was not so much a factor, but the anger was.  The closest I’ve come in the past to feelings like this were toward drunk drivers in Austin after taking care of the patients they killed just a few beds over.  This was different, though.  Those drivers didn’t yet know what they’d done.  This man did.  And here he was crying about his arm, asking for water and pain control and blankets and consideration for his religion (he told us he was fasting and asked if we could make sure the surgery was after dark).  He got everything he asked for (except for water, but that was for his own good). 

We gave him the same care as we gave to our own soldiers, all the while feeling like reluctant saints.  He groveled and talked to us like we were his best friends.  We probably were, considering what we were doing for a man who killed our friends, considering we weren’t encouraging him to murder, or convincing him that there are rewards in heaven for strapping bombs to mentally challenged children or pregnant women while their family is held hostage.

I have to confess that more than once I had to throw up my defense mechanisms and push the inconvenient facts to the back of my mind while I focused on the injury.  In the heat of the moment it was hard for me to see him as being worthy at all of any care or comfort.  Why was this man in my ER?  What’s that?  Oh he’s in pain?  Well of course he’s in pain.  He got his arm broken trying to kill us.  Give him some fentanyl and maybe he’ll shut up a little.  He’s a murderer.  He’s a terrorist!  He hates us and would try to kill us if he could.  He does not regret what he’s done and we’re working to save his hand so that he can do it again.  What kind of insane world do we live in?

Once my job was done and the decision was made for him to go to the OR, I left the room and only came back when called (my desk is adjacent to the wall of the trauma room).  When I did come in, it was a relief to see they’d put a mask on him for security purposes.  It had the secondary effect of dehumanizing him further.

Now I don’t say all this because I’m proud of those feelings.  I don’t say it all to draw attention to the fact that we, as Americans, are willing to give to those who would take any opportunity to kill or maim us—though that is true, and those who would try to draw attention to, and make generalizations about, rare exceptions to that rule are fools.

I’m sharing all this partly because it had a major effect on me and most of you would be interested in it. When Jesus said to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, surely he didn’t mean this, right?  He meant figuratively, or only people who hate us because of our faith.  Or he meant that we shouldn’t hate them or try to kill them or return wrong for wrong, but he didn’t necessarily mean we need to like them, right?  Well I guess it depends on what you mean by “love your enemies,” or “do good to those who hate you,” or “turn the other cheek,” or “do to others as you would have them do to you.”  Those directives don’t leave much room for interpretation.

I took care of the guy.  I did good to him, but my heart wasn’t in it.  I had two good reasons to offer this person good medical care.  First, I’m a doctor.  Second, I represent the USA.  In my opinion both of those are excellent reasons why I should rise above the temptation to treat this man poorly.  But both of those reasons leave me free to hate him in my heart, to secretly hope his arm cannot be fixed, and to even take comfort in the idea that he might get infected and die a slow, agonizing death.  Just as long as I did my job and followed my human ethics.

But my calling as a follower if Christ is higher than that.  I can’t truly love someone with actions alone.  I can’t love someone with hatred in my heart.  I have to be able to look someone in the eye and say, “I love you because Christ loves you and I’m an extension of Him in this world.”  If Christ can have compassion for those who are actively crucifying him, I’m expected to do the same for people who want to blow me up.  I don’t have the power to do that.  Only God does.  But he’s given us that power in the Holy Spirit, and I’ve heard and read countless stories that testify to that truth.

Pray for me.  I don’t know that I’ll have that kind of experience again.  I hope I won’t.  But I want my heart to continue to be free of the hate and anger and fear that surround me.  Maybe my attitude can affect someone around me for the better.

Dr. Timothy Livengood with his wife, Dr. Andreea Livengood and daughter Sophia

©2012 Connie Davis Johnson