Saturday, June 25, 2011

21 Days of Prayer for Sons - Anger (Day 18)

"So much of the Christian life is a choice. Every day (multiple times a day) we're presented with a choice to choose God or choose ourselves. Anger is a perfect example."(from the Leader's Guide by Brook Mcglothlin) This is so true. I often have to "counsel" my children to choose not to get angry with their siblings, or at least not act in anger. How often do we all get in trouble by acting out in anger? Wouldn't things be smoother if we chose to turn the other cheek, forgive and move on? 
Yesterday afternoon, shortly after we got home from VBS, the kids were supposed to be getting themselves sandwiches for lunch and I went upstairs to the bathroom. During the following 5 minutes, I heard yelling, scuffling, the front door slamming shut, and then a little knock at the door and Luca's plaintive voice. When I opened the bathroom door, there was Luca, in tears, telling me about Rocky and Antonio's fight. "Are you okay, are you hurt?" I asked him. "No, it's Rocky, my buddy. He's bleeding." "You weren't in the fight?" "No, it's Rocky my buddy."
I was moved by his concern for his big brother and buddy. I've never seen him like that. In a fleeting moment, I rejoiced that he was showing maturity in his feelings of concern for someone else.
Anyway, there was Rocky on my bed: upset, still angry, tears in his eyes. The whole story tumbled out. He was in the kitchen making a sandwich for Luca and himself and Sabina was trying to open the dishwasher to get a plate. "The dishes are dirty." "I need a plate," Sabina said. "They're dirty." "I need a plate!" "These plates are dirty. Cecelia! Get a plate for your buddy!" Sabina, enraged, yelled,"AAH! Stupid Rocky!" So, yes, already the anger had begun. Out of frustration with the rising level of noise and craziness, Rocky vented, "Everybody SHUT UP!" Then, Antonio felt that he had to step in and control the situation AKA put his hand on Rocky and control HIM. This turned into one of the epic physical fights that they've been getting into since they were 1 and 2. Nobody was hurt, but Antonio stormed out of the house and took off on his bike. I didn't even get a chance to talk to him. Luca and Sabina were watching Rocky as he told me the story. I looked at the three of them, my own anger rising up that I couldn't even go to the bathroom without this happening. I noticed Luca still had tears next to his eyes and pointed it out to Rocky that he was so concerned for him. Rocky didn't actually have any blood, but a scab on his shoulder had partially ripped off earlier in the day and I told Luca that's what it was. Then, I turned to Sabina because I saw how it all had stemmed from her fit of anger. She is little (only 3) and angelically cute; she needed to know how her anger affected her brother. I told her that she needs to listen to what Rocky says to her and told her she needed to apologize for the mean words she said to him. Now, as God's child (we dubbed her thus while I was pregnant with her), she seems unnaturally capable of understanding when she needs to apologize and go all the way with it. She sweetly said sorry to Rocky for the way she treated him and they hugged. Then I wanted Rocky to comfort Luca and the other way around. I tried to explain how when we show love toward one another it can diffuse anger. They ended up hugging too. 
I spoke to Rocky, "I know you feel upset when things are noisy and crazy sometimes, but you have to use your self-control and calm down. Remove yourself from the situation so you don't get angry." He agreed and then left to find Antonio. At the park nearby, he found him to apologize. It took another half-hour for Antonio to come home. The anger was still all over him. Some of the kids had said to him, "It's better when you're gone." (He'd spent the night at a friend's house the night before.) His feelings were hurt and he was in the middle of a "poor me. No one understands or likes me anymore because I'm a teen now, but I'm the same kid." adolescent mood swing. I had to choose to step away from my own anger at him for treating his brother badly and then taking off. I saw how hurt he was, and took a moment to pray and hug him after cracking through his anger shell. This motherhood business is a constant challenge.
I had the other kids apologize to him for saying that. I think they understood that it was pretty mean. I also think Antonio grew to understand that they only said it to hurt him, just like he sometimes says mean things out of anger. This was a pretty big lesson for me in how one little seed of temper/anger can grow into a storm of junk for the whole family. We have a choice in how to react to others' anger. Do we let them affect us? Do we let them control our emotions and actions? No, we use our fruits to love, to be patient, to use self-control, to be kind. We let God, and sometimes Mom, handle the situation.
 
Anger
May all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from __________, along with all malice (Ephesians 4:31)
May__________ put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from his mouth (Colossians 3:8)
May__________ give a soft answer, which turns away wrath, and avoid harsh words which stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1)
May__________ not be quick in his spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
May__________ never avenge himself, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written,"Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." (Romans 12:19) 
May__________ know that God himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14) 
May__________ make peace, and so have a harvest of righteousness (James 3:18) 
And let the peace of Christ rule in __________ heart, to which indeed he was called in one body. And be thankful (Colossians 3:15)
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard __________ heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7)
May__________turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11)

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