Sometimes people just get on my last nerve. Sometimes I’m too tired to react in ways that really accomplish what I’m after. Sometimes I lose my cool. It’s gotten even more difficult as the hormones of menopause have done their magic. I also coach a lot of people who have trouble keeping their emotions in check. It seems with the chaotic and unpredictable nature of our world today, we are all finding ourselves a little frayed around the edges. It doesn’t help that much of the public discourse around us is dominated by gripping, complaining, and arguing.
So what does God say about all of this? Well, we know that Jesus got angry and lost his cool at least a couple of times. It’s one of the clearest signs that He truly was fully human. We also know that God gets angry – just read the Old Testament. What was behind their anger? In all cases, it was offenses against the Creator of the Universe. How often can I say that this is the source of my frustration and anger? Not very often. Most of the times I get angry it’s because my needs, my interests, my plans, my, my, my (whatever IT is)…. are not getting enough attention.
God calls us to examine our motivations especially when we are agitated, but that is soooo hard. It’s so hard to pull back, ask God to calm our hearts, and then allow Him to show us the source of our emotion. We don’t want to see it, we want what we want, NOW.
What comes out when we act quickly, from emotion, is what is truly in our heart. Jesus tells the disciples in John 6:45 “A good person brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil person brings evil things out of the evil stored up in their heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” This is why not losing your cool is not just about self discipline, but about relationship – our relationship with God. If we don’t build that relationship every day, how can we expect to have the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – that allow us to show others grace. These are the characteristics of a “good person.”
Oswald Chambers writes in “My Utmost for His Highest” (September 20); “The secret of a Christian is that the supernatural is made natural in him by the grace of God, and the experience of this works out in the practical details of life, not in times of communion with God. When we come in contact with things that create a buzz, we find to our amazement that we have power to keep wonderfully poised in the centre of it all.” This poise comes from relationship and produces in us an ability to step back, examine our motivations, curb our natural emotional tendencies, and act in ways that do not avoid the issues at hand, but deal with them in a grace-filled and kingdom building way.
Is your life built on a strong enough foundational relationship with God that you are demonstrating the character traits of the “good person” you desire to be? I know I have work to do. Time with Him, in stillness, is the cornerstone of the foundation.