I have an anger problem. In terms of when it manifests itself with whom, I’d say it shows up 0% of the time with adults, 0% of the time with other people’s kids, and 100% of the time with my two boys. This week, I had a particularly bad round of it. And, to be fair, my boys were certainly provoking me. I yelled at them, calmed down, apologized for yelling, used normal tones for two sentences, yelled again at them (a little louder), calmed down, apologized, used normal tones for one sentence, yelled again at them (louder still), and … well … you get the picture.
Finally after herding cats, I mean boys, into the car (because getting my boys in the car when I’m angry seems so much like herding cats), I told the boys I had an anger problem (actually, I think I yelled it in anger) and told them I needed to pray. So right there, in the car before we drove out the driveway, I prayed. “God help me. I’m angry. Please forgive me. Please help me not be angry.” Then I heard a groan/cry from the backseat, turned around to look, and the four year old was sticking his finger in the 6 year old’s mouth and yanking on his cheek. In that moment, I learned what REALLY makes me angry — boys who don’t respect prayer when mommy really needs it. I’m sure I must have literally had steam coming out of my ears at that point. Perhaps a vein was throbbing in my throat or forehead. Suffice it to say that my anger had NOT miraculously dissipated.
My 6 year old seemed to understand the gravity of the situation. He’s the one who told me last week that he hated God because he prayed for a TV in his bedroom and God didn’t give him one. We’ve been talking with him a lot about God’s love for him and have been trying to cultivate thankfulness for all the many things God has given him. In the car, the 6 year old looked at me sweetly and said that HE would pray. He folded his hands nicely and squeezed his eyes shut. He opted for silent prayer. We waited. And then he opened his eyes. I couldn’t resist asking him what he prayed for, and he said something about thanking God for the many things we have. He didn’t mention help with my anger, so I’m not sure if that was included or not.
Something about that entire scene was like a big bucket of ice water being poured over my head. The vision of my formerly God-hating 6 year old sweetly folding his hands in prayer for me just did me in. But not in a bad way. I didn’t feel shame. I felt grace and mercy. Really, God could have let me back my car into the wall in my anger and it would have served me right. But instead, He ministered grace to me through my son’s prayer. He turned a situation ruined by my sinful anger into a moment of spiritual joy watching my son exhibiting child-like faith. It’s called redemption. Deliverance. And I’m reminded once again that it is something only He can do.
For the rest of the afternoon, my boys and I had a really nice time together doing things that I had not expected to be enjoyable at all. For a few hours, the Kingdom broke into our sin-damaged reality and it was miraculous to behold. By that evening, we were back to the occasional fits of grumpiness and complaining that characterize us on normal days. But I went to bed with a renewed confidence in God’s ability to redeem the worst of what’s in me and instead of ruining my kids with it (which is a life long fear of mine), actually use it for all of our good to transform us into His image. Thy Kingdom come, O Lord.