Day 125 – Ok. Ok. You Can Stop Repeating Yourself!

Although Proverbs warns against nagging wives (which I discuss here), I’d swear that Wisdom is a nag.

Because I keep reading the same thing again and again in Proverbs. Sort of like a dripping faucet.

It’s starting to annoy me.

But it’s convicting me at the same time… Yet once more, I am reminded that:

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

I don’t know if my hot-temperedness stirs up any conflicts directly.

I  remember that occasionally fights would break out in the hallways when I was in junior high (now middle) school. Some kids would rush in to get a look and cheer one or other of the parties on. Some kids (like me) were grossed out and/or scared and backed away from the circling crowd. And some kids jumped into the fray until there was a Medusa-like pile of swinging arms and punches.

That is my idea of hot-temperedness stirring up conflict.

But in my home, I think there’s another way it happens. When a parent is on edge (ah, that would be me), it sets everyone on edge, and there’s a greater chance that conflicts will break out amongst the other family parties (like kids).

I have a hunch that if I grew in patience, there’d be an overall decrease in quarrels in our home.

I don’t know. I could be wrong.

But maybe it’s worth a try.

As I typed those very words, I sighed. It just seems overwhelming for me to try and reign in my raw reactions and increase my forbearance.

That’s where I am encouraged my the best book on prayer I’ve ever read (which I discuss here). It’s embarrassing that after these many years being a Christian and pretty much hearing it all, I am for the first time “hearing” how much I need to go to God with a childlike request for “help,” that He likes the fact that I ask. He tells me to do so… alot.

In fact, any other stance (than that I need God for everything and must therefore ask) shows both arrogance and “functional deism” on my part (got that last phrase from the book’s author – nifty, huh?).

So when I hear:

No. This is not my daughter and me. This woman is far too patient, anyway.

  • “Help me, Momma. Help me tie my shoes.”
  • “Help me, Momma. My sheets and covers are all tangled. Can you straighten them out for me?” (I still hear this).
  • “Help me, Momma. I don’t get this math problem.” (Still get this request, too).

How do I respond? Of course I help my children (though sometimes I’m a bit slower to react than they would like).

So how will God respond when I say, “Lord. Help me ditch the hot-temper and embrace patience?”

Of course God will help me (though sometimes He’s a bit slower to react than I – or my family members – would like).

Oh, and did I mention – besides God’s slow response – I’m not too thrilled that He often uses difficult circumstances to drive the lessons home?

But He DOES respond!

Amen for that.

Today’s Readings: 1 Samuel 10:1-11:15 , Psalm 55:15-23, Proverbs 15:18-20, Luke 22:24-46. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).

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6 thoughts on “Day 125 – Ok. Ok. You Can Stop Repeating Yourself!

  1. Listening partnership! Parents need help offloading the build-up of emotion just like kids do — it’s not always a simple lack of patience, but that we get most impatient when our emotional cup is most frustratingly full.

    • I agree with all you say. But I also think that when our emotions (in this case anger) spill over with frightening speed and intensity, it’s an arrow pointing to something beneath. I often don’t have time to talk it out before it erupts. Moreover, talking it out may address the symptom, calming the storm, but there’s something beneath the anger that I need to address. I need to repent of something below, something that causes me to react in an inappropriate anger, something that’s beyond what circumstances call for, something totally unrelated to what my children do or don’t do. That’s where I need God’s help, for only He knows the depths of my deceitful heart, only He knows the lies and idolatries beneath my sinful anger, only He can help me repent. I hope He does in this life!

      • The idea of listening partnership is to have a weekly exchange of listening, to offload stuff before your cup gets too full; some folks arrange for “in the heat of the moment” listening partners that can listen for a few minutes any time, or they call and leave a voicemail or send an email.

        You’re right that intense emotions usually point to something beneath the current situational trigger, and that it needs to be addressed, and that ultimately God is our healer and redeemer in addressing such things. My doctrine of sin is in flux at the moment — I believe in sin, that we all have it, that no one gets completely free of it until the next life, and that Jesus paid the full price for it. But how that actually works out in ordinary life is not as clear to me as it once was.

      • Does my husband count as my listening partner? If so, we have that covered. He’s a great listener!

        Curious: what was once clear about sin which is not so clear now? The tough thing for me about sin is that many actions or every action? have/has touches of sin

      • Sure, a husband can be a listening partner. The key to making it really work is that it’s not just venting or exchanging stories, but getting enough laughter or tears to release the emotions — and that requires a certain finesse in listening.

        As for sin, I am seeing so much how our behavior is influenced by emotional and relational things, like when a kid throws a tantrum because of some little thing, it’s usually because she’s feeling unsafe, afraid, disconnected, or some such, and that in moments when her sense of warm safe connection is more secure, she’d handle the same little trigger with much more aplomb. Our sense of warm safe connection is fairly fragile — falters and breaks fairly often, fairly easily, although it often doesn’t take a whole lot to reassure and reconnect.

        I don’t see kids as manipulative or rebellious anymore — or if they seem so, there’s something else going on, something deeper that drives it. We rebel when we’re afraid, we manipulate when we’re desperate, and I think it’s rare that anyone, grown or child, actually sits down and decides to manipulate or rebel. I think it’s kind of a good way to look at Jesus talking about good treasure and bad treasure, or fruit — what’s within us comes out — when we feel safe, connected, hopeful, we act from that sense, and when we feel threatened, abandoned, hopeless, we act from that sense. We have a pretty limited ability to work against these deeply rooted beliefs or statements or senses — by changing our thinking, preaching to ourselves, obtaining help from others or in Scripture or in prayer, etc, but I suspect that ultimately we need God to heal our deep wounds as much as, if not more than, we need him to pay for our sins.

        Ever notice how often sorrows and griefs and wounds are used as metaphors for sin? What if they’re more than metaphors? What if there’s some profound connection or parallelism or identity going on here?

        What if the root of sin is the false self — the ways we hide our true selves, put on certain faces, pretend in various ways, failing to confront what is deep within ourselves, failing to live from our very center? What if this is the nature of our waywardness, that keeps us climbing the throne, turning from the one who loves us best?

        I feel like maybe Pascal addressed some of this stuff — isn’t he the one who said something about the importance of being able to be alone with oneself, without distracting ourselves from ourselves?

      • What if sin involves much less choice and power and intention than we think it does, but we’re still accountable somehow…

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