Well, that’s what Ephesians 4:26 and Psalm 4:4 say anyway. Looks like my philosophy of that today was: “In their anger, do not let your children sin; but you may sin in your anger towards your children’s anger.”
Confusing? Let me explain.
We have spent the past several weeks researching what kind of vehicle to buy since we now need two vehicles and since our van has now acquired a hefty 242,000+km. Weeks of research. Weeks of indecision. And then this week, on three different days, we went to three different car dealerships (two of which were each an hour away). We made offers on two vehicles. One of them was taken. That would be this sunny, Saturday afternoon, when we bought ourselves a Sienna which ought to last us almost until Miss Madeline graduates from high school. Hooray for us.
So, yes, sunny, Saturday afternoon. The long search and weeks of indecision are over. All of the papers are signed. The kids behaved remarkably well in the 2.5 hours it took for the whole thing to go down (why do car dealerships make it take so long?!) and I am getting out the lunch that I packed for us before we head further north to a fun afternoon at the Jurassic Forest when Madeline starts freaking out about the fact that the air conditioning is not blowing on her. Picture body flailing and exasperated noises coming from the back seat. And now picture me reaching my limit. I just cannot tolerate that annoying behaviour at the present moment, being in the middle of passing out sandwiches and pouring apple juice which I lovingly prepared in advance for this afternoon of fun.
So what do I do? What do I do with this moaning expression of anger and frustration coming from the back seat? Well, I say some not nice threatening words. Really not nice, threatening words. We go back and forth for a bit. And in the end I cry out that “I said those not nice words because I’M ANGRY!”
“Well, so am I,” Madeline replied.
What could I do but smile (albeit a smile shadowed by guilt and regret)? Why do I think it’s okay to go totally out of control myself all for the sake of getting one of my kids back in control?
I am wondering what kind of zen lifestyle one has to commit to in order to make it through those flailing, whining moments without responding in kind. This was definitely not the week for that.
But then I wonder… will there ever be that kind of week? The kind of week where things are all in control and in perspective and I can respond to my children each moment with kind, gentle nudging towards what is right rather than yelling, pulling-my-hair-out sarcastic directives.
I know I’m not always out of control. But I do wish I had more control.
I have learned over the past few months that I need to work very hard to respond to what is in front of me with only what is in front of me. It is wrong for me to respond with a week’s worth of tiredness and frustration. But that’s hard to do. Plus, it’s hard to react to what someone is doing when you know they’ve been doing that thing for days or months or decades and will likely do it in the decades to come. The patience and the grace can go remarkably thin when that’s just the time for it to be thick and strong as leather.
There will be times (far too many times) when I will not respond appropriately to things, and so I must have grace for when others (especially my children) do not respond appropriately. Plus, I need to learn that there is a healthy way to vent anger. I haven’t figured that out yet. What exactly do the writers mean when they say “do not sin” anyway? What does that look like?
I’m pretty sure it does NOT look like what happened in our van today.