14 The arrogant are attacking me, O God;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life—
men without regard for you.
15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
grant your strength to your servant
and save the son of your maidservant.
At the beginning of the year I posted about resolutions, or something along those lines. I didn’t divulge what they were, or exactly how many. Just that they were meant to make my life better, more enjoyable. I think I was hoping for less stress…. but in this case it’s creating just a bit more. Sometimes stress is good…. it pushes us to succeed.
During a steering meeting for MOPS a few weeks ago, someone mentioned the idea of resolutions being centered around one word. She said she wanted to take a word from the bible, focus on those verses, and make that her word for the year. Another friend of mine has blogged about her word of the year as well. Now, this was NEVER on my mind to do. It just wasn’t. Part of my “resolutions” was to sit back and let God guide my steps in this area….. I knew I needed change. I knew I needed guidance. So part of what I wanted to do was kind of sit back and see where He led me, what He put in my lap. Part of that has included Lent, which is something I never planned on doing. Ever. Just like this whole “focus on one word” deal. But God gave me a word, several weeks ago, to try to live by. And let me tell you, it’s been harder than I ever thought.
I tend to be an angry person. If you know me at all, whether it be our online connections or real life encounters, you wouldn’t always gather that right away. If you know me REALLY well, then you probably caught that at some point. You might have gotten a glimpse of it on the phone when I’m cursing (I know, bad) at my cabinets for being out of order…. because it’s all their fault. Or maybe it was when I told you about my outburst of road rage at the person who was 3 seconds slower than I wanted them to be. The worst would be if you noticed it in my parenting…. because yeah, it’s there too.
God got me thinking…. “how much different would I be, in all areas of my life, if I put LOVE into everything instead of anger?” And that’s when things started changing……
I don’t mean I instantly and miraculously changed, or that the heavens parted, or that my kids started picking up after themselves, or that my husband started singing my praises, or even that my cabinets started organizing themselves… and that person on the road certainly didn’t start driving 3 seconds faster. It became apparent to me that anger doesn’t get things done as much as I thought it did. With my kids, my anger spurred their fear…. and that got things done. With my husband, my anger spurred his bitterness…. and that got things done. With my house, my anger at things not being done led to MORE things not being done because I was so mad I chose not to do anything.
But when I took a deep breath and just repeated “love…. love…. love…. love” and made that my focus, things changed out of love, not fear or bitterness.
Now, I’m not saying every day is roses and sunshine…. it’s so far from it more often than not… but what it’s doing in me is showing me that I have very clear choices in how I respond. If I respond in anger like my instincts tell me to, I’ll pay that price. If I respond in love the way God tells me to, I’ll reap the rewards.
I’m amazed at how hard it’s been though to change the gears in my mind, to swallow my pride, to give up my control, to not die to myself everytime I want to be angry…. all for the sake of LOVE. You’d think that’d be worth it, make it easy at least… but it doesn’t. It’s worth it, but it’s not easy.
I started with the boys first, and now I’m practicing on Jake. I’ve also found that I’m asking myself questions like “how would this be different if I responded in love?” or “what would responding in love look like here?” and everytime I am humbled at how much I put myself first in day to day situations…. humbled because even still, God is taking the time to cultivate a spirit of love in me, instead of anger, even though I am underserving of it.
I still struggle daily with anger…. if you see me out and about, it’s usually just beneath the surface… but it’s there. The more I just keep focusing on “love….love….love….love” the more it will come naturally though, the more it will replace all that pent up anger that I hold onto. That verse up there, where it says “men without regard for you…” when I read that I see those men as men without love guiding their actions. I don’t want to be someone without regard for God, I want to live in love, the kind of love that God gives us…. I want it to guide me daily. If God and His love aren’t guiding me daily, that only leaves one other option…. and I’m tired of letting anger get the better of me, of my family, and of my relationships.