Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mystery Guest

I'm a little reluctant to blog about this topic today, because it means I have to pull the curtain back a little bit more than I'd like. Everyone likes to tell stories about other people. Funny anecdotes are only funny when they happen to complete strangers. But when you decide to bare your soul or show a little humility, that's when people can attack or judge you, and nobody likes that. People see humility as weakness rather than strength. But, regardless of those "other people", I'll move on to tell my story.

I struggle with a fierce temper. People who know me would say that is the most ridiculous thing they've ever heard of. Most people would assume I'd never hurt a fly, only because they've never seen me swing a fly-swatter like the fly-killing ninja that I am. Yet, here I am to tell the whole world that I have a temper. My dad had a temper too, as did his dad before him. I admit, I come from a long line of men with bad tempers. I'm sure somewhere in my family lineage is a link to Attila the Hun or maybe that evil magician in Frosty the Snowman.

Anyway, as each generation passed, the outward expression of our family anger became better controlled or at least, less out in the open. As is usually the case, the ones who suffer from the tide of anger are those dearest to my heart, in this case, my children. If you ask them if Dad has a temper, their answer would be "YES, YES, YES!". There would be no hesitation; they would leave you with no doubt. When I was a younger Dad, I knew that a well placed scream would put the fear of Dad in the hearts of my children. I knew that was enough to keep me in my place as a child, so I thought the same tactic would keep my children "scared straight".

However, I've been really struggling with that method since I've been home full-time. You see before, the tactic needed to be used only once in a while to get the desired effect. But now that I'm home all the time, it has become more like a daily ritual. I've prayed about it and tried to make the necessary changes, but nothing has helped. In retrospect, I think fear probably drives a lot of that kind of behavior. Fear of losing control, fear of what the future holds, etc. Kids become the unwilling targets of that fear because they challenge your control on a daily basis and who knows what they're going to do later in the day, let alone in far into the future.

However, an amazing thing happened Sunday. First of all, let me say that my experience is uniquely my own and I don't expect others to necessarily understand it, because I sometimes don't. While at church, I was praying about my anger and my kids (which I've done hundreds of times before), when suddenly I felt this incredible peace about it. I use the word "peace" because I can't think of any other word that fits better. So now here I am, six days later, and I have yet to yell at my kids! You're thinking, six days doesn't sound like a very large sample size to judge this change, but my kids would beg to differ. Go ahead, ask them.

So there you go. I can't explain it other than to say, I was changed without explanation. I "feel" different and my actions seem to show that something is different. I would be a fool to say that I will never yell at my kids again. To say that would be to deny my humanity. But I think the message today is to not give up. If there's something you're struggling with, get help. You know, to say that "God works in mysterious ways" would be an understatement. But see, he does work. So without getting overly preachy, give him a try. Then give him another, and another, and another. You may not get the answer you're looking for, heck, you may not get an answer at all - at least in the beginning. But he'll show up. Trust me, he'll show up.

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