by Vanessa Stimmel
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” – Proverbs 16:32 ESV
Yesterday morning our screen door shut on my heel. It bled. It hurt. My oldest proceeded to scream because he wanted to see the blood. My youngest screamed for no apparent reason at all. He was fussy and clingy and I’m still not sure why. On the way to my son’s dentist appointment later in the morning, I received a call that there was an error with our mortgage payment. At that same dentist appointment I was notified that the water in our new home had too much fluoride – we’d need to invest in a new filter. Great. We came home and I heard water spewing out from our dishwasher line underneath our kitchen sink. Our home warranty company then double charged me for this service request. Later on, Wal-Mart had a 20-minute wait for a cashier since their self-check out lines were closed. To end the day my youngest body slammed my oldest while holding a hard toy and cut his gum open, leading to lots of blood.
We came full circle. Blood to start the day. Blood to end the day. One of those days.
I found myself on the brink of rage throughout it all. Fighting self-pity. Fighting guilt. Wanting to hide and be alone. Wanting time to just take a breath in silence.
I also couldn’t help but think of the many people I know that are facing far more serious matters on a daily basis. And yet these small, petty frustrations and disturbances had such a grip on me. As though they were battling for control over my mind and heart…because they were.
Naturally, when experiencing a day like this, I did the only thing that made sense and felt good (a.k.a. numbing)…scrolled through Instagram. As soon as I opened the app, I was struck between the eyes with a picture quote from Christine Caine: “If someone has the capacity to ‘make or break’ your day, you’ve given them too much power over you.”
Ouch. A reminder that I can’t run from God. He’s on social media too.
I sat there in my own sin and weaknesses, and I saw myself and my day in a new light.
Too often I let external circumstances, internal thoughts and expectations, and even (or perhaps especially) my children’s moods, impact my course each day. This is a cop-out. It takes the accountability off of my own reactions and puts the pressure to perform on the situations and people around me. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not helpful to me.
Proverbs 29:11 says, “A [shortsighted] fool always loses his temper and displays his anger, But a wise man [uses self-control and] holds it back.” How important it is to resist displaying anger and rage in our homes. Experiencing these emotions is part of being human, but acting on them without restraint is not. “Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down,” Paul famously writes in Ephesians 4:26 AMP. Exercising the spiritual muscle of self-control is one of the healthiest things we can do for our own hearts and the hearts of those closest to us.
And it’s not just about controlling our reactions. It begins with initially exercising restraint over our assumptions, thoughts, and emotions that spark the rest of the processes for our sinful nature. The really good news is we’ve already been given the power and victory over them through the death and resurrection of Jesus and the indwelling of his Spirit.
As a wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend, I want to become so satisfied and confident in God – His deep love and promises over me – that my sinful thought processes and natural reactions are no longer my defaults. With the Lord working in our hearts, this is more than just possible – it is attainable through Him and leads to deeper reliance, trust, and knowing of God.