Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Forget to be Angry

Let me preface this by saying that none of this blog is intended to be an excuse for why I got angry or how I handled the situation. I am fully aware of the way that I should have handled the situation and I truly felt horrible about it. To put minds at ease, me and Andrew (my youngest son), sat and talked about it, we cried, hugged and are better for it.
So here is how it went down…

Dana (my wife, soon to be my ex-wife) moved back to Alaska about three weeks ago. That move has been very difficult for all of us (Me and the boys), but has been especially hard on Andrew. Unfortunately, Andrew is not ready to tell Dana just how angry he is. A lot of that has to do with his fear that making her mad at him will only serve to have her cut off contact with him completely. Instead, Andrew often misdirects his anger toward people around him. Often times the main focuses of that anger are James (his brother) and me. He doesn’t mean it, but he doesn’t know how to deal with it (we are working on that restlessly). The last 1 or 2 weeks has been especially trying for all of us (St. V day doesn’t help – it’s a silly holiday anyway…we should show our love all the time).

So recently, Andrew has done a lot to push my buttons and I have done very well (I think) in being calm and understanding. My main focus is trying to provide a safe, secure, reassuring and comforting home life, though that seems like an insurmountable task sometimes. One of his big button pushers is arguing and raising his voice to me (very disrespectful and not often received well on my part). So yesterday, we were in the car and we were almost home. Let me just say, this car ride was the culmination to an already rough day. Up to that point, the boys (being that they are brothers and often act as such) had been under each other’s skin for almost the entire day. I was looking forward to getting home and doing some cleaning and reading (I know, I live a super exciting life now a days, but I enjoys it), and I simply made the comment about wanting to shovel a neighbor’s driveway (Jennifer Lewis, her husband Aaron is currently deployed to Iraq – please keep him and his family in prayer) next time it snowed. Somehow that simple comment turned into a full blown argument, complete with Andrew yelling and being very disrespectful in his tone and what he said. Initially I was pretty calm. I tried diffusing the situation multiple times, by telling Andrew that we needed to drop it and encouraging him to think about what he was saying and how he was saying it. But he just wouldn’t stop; it was like he was on a mission to seek and destroy my patience and he was certainly locked on target.

The argument continued for about 10 minutes and then…direct hit! I exploded in yelling. I got to the point where the only solution to his disrespect and the volume of his voice was to just be louder than him. I proceeded on a 2 minute tirade of how tired I was of his disrespect and attitude. The “attitude” continued into the house, in the form of stomping up the stairs on the way to his room. I was in NO mood for shenanigans. I ran up the stairs (I think I actually touched, like 2 of the 20 stairs), burst into his room and issued a very surprising swat on Andrew’s hind side. (Let me just say, I do not make it a habit to spank my kids, not that I am against a good spanking from time to time, but they are at the age where it isn’t that effective anymore. I probably haven’t spanked them in 7 or 8 months, but it definitely got his attention.) Today was a special occasion and not special in a good way. I had reached my emotional threshold. After slamming his door, I went in my room and slammed my door. I sat down on the floor by my bed and broke. Not broke down, just broke. I couldn’t do anything but cry. I was able to calm down and eventually Andrew and I sat and talked. Things are all better, but we all (James included) have a lot of hurt and anger that still needs to be dealt with and we are.

So here is what I realized. Here is why I titled this blog, “I Forget to be Mad”. Yesterday, I slept in and didn’t spend the first part of my day with God. Jeff had previously told me, “Now that you’re expressing this [my desire and call to ministry], the enemy wants to destroy it. DON’T LET HIM!” I have been praying everyday for strength and protection from the enemy, but yesterday I didn’t start my day by doing that. I didn’t read my Bible, I didn’t talk with God, and I didn’t allow God to talk with me. Because of that, my family suffered a hurtful and difficult situation. That is not to say that just because you pray and read your bible that everything will be peachy keen or that our argument wouldn’t have happened. But what I can guarantee is that the argument would not have taken the left turn that it did. The way I see it, and have seen it happen, is that the time you give to God at the first part of your day serves to put you in the right spiritual frame of mind. It is time that allows God to work on you. He is able to re-install his peace in you. He is able to reboot your spiritual operating system and allow you to refocus on him. That time spent is crucial to how the rest of your day will go. It provides focus and reminds you to stay in touch with God throughout your day. If you dedicate that time, you can’t help but deal with things the way God wants you to, the way you know you ought to. For me, it helps me to forget to be angry. During this period in my life, I have so much to be angry at; but that time is vital in reminding me of all the things that I can rejoice in. I have been so blessed that to overlook that would be like me being loud and disrespectful to God. Sometimes I am. The difference is, God doesn’t often use a huge booming voice to be louder than us, just to get our attention. He will usually let us go about our business, like WE know what’s best, all the while, calling us back to him with a simple whisper. We just have to be quite, forget to be angry and accept the peace he so freely offers. I hope that I always forget to be angry.

Trying to follow him every day,
Bruce