Do not involve your children in your marital disputes. Solomon warned, "Anger rests in the bosom of fools" [Ecc 7:9]. Your children are easy target for your misdirected rage. Even when your emotional outbursts are not aimed toward them, they still suffer the effects. For example, your boss reprimands you at work, and because you cannot retaliate you come home like a bear with a headache and make everybody walk on eggshells. Even if that is what you experienced growing up - you are not a child anymore. Lower the decibel level! Do not let your anger run amok. David prayed, "Watch over...my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to...evil" [Ps 141:3 - 4]. And James says, "Submit...to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" [Jas 4:7]. That is the only way you will ever change the steps in your family dance.
"Do not sin by letting anger control you." Ephesians 4:26
God does not deny us the right to our emotions, but He does hold us accountable for how we handle them. For example, it is never okay to abuse those He has entrusted to your care. Paul said, "Do not sin by letting anger control you...anger gives a foothold to the devil." Satan would like nothing better than to gain an entry point into your home, then turn it into a living hell. And every time you fly into a rage you lose ground to him. Hot words do not result in cool judgement. Solomon said, "A hot temper shows great foolishness" [Pro 14:29]. The key to managing your anger is in finding ways to express it so it does not end up in an explosion. It is okay to share your feelings, but you must do it the right way. Ultimately the issue is not about who is right or wrong, [or who can yell the loudest], it is about finding the answer that is best for everyone.
Nobody can be everything you want them to be, all the time. It is impossible to have a long-term, loving relationship without learning to accept human weakness. So instead of dwelling on one another's shortcomings, focus on your collective strength as a family. Clinical Psychologist Dr. Paul Pearsall says, "Most of us would give our lives for a family member. Yet too often we live our daily life as if we take out families for granted." Learn to control your temper; your family is worth it. After all, who else loves you regardless of what you do? And where else can you find the comfort that comes from such a support system?
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
“Keep the unity of the Spirit.” Ephesians 4:2 – 3
When it is easier to talk to outsiders than it is to your family, something is wrong. Your family should be a support system – a safety net to catch you when you fall. We like to envision “family” as a hardworking father, a stay-at-home mother, 2 children and a house. But for many people family means money problems, troubled children and warring spouses. That is why Paul writes: “Walk…with…longsuffering, bearing with one another in love…keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” It takes a big dose of grace to make it all work! So start praying for your children, instead of just setting boundaries that create distance between you when you do not see eye to eye. You will not always agree, but you must learn to respect each other. When God said, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” Proverbs 22:6, He did not say what qualifies as “old,” or when your investment would start paying off. Every family has its ups and downs. And every family tree produces a few nuts! In fact, sometimes the best part is underground! But if you bail out when things get tough you will miss the rewards you would have gotten by hanging on. Often the child that blesses you most is the one, who did not reflect your views, married someone you did not like, and does not invite you over to dinner! In the long run none of that matters because your family is a life-long investment. What is important is to love and support one another unconditionally right now.
“Bearing with one another in love….” Ephesians 4:2 – 3
Nearing the end of his life when he should have been preparing to bless his sons, Simeon and Levi, Jacob told them: “I…curse…you because of your…anger” Gen 49:7. But their behavior should have been no surprise; after all, the apple never falls far from the tree! The fact is, Jacob had already shaped them by his example when he deceived his father [see Genesis 27] and his father-in-law [see Genesis 30], and his mother facilitated the deception. Behavioral patterns are passed from generation to generation, and “a house divided against itself will fall” [Luke 11:17]. Mother, father, your actions and attitudes will either bless or blight your children. So “Teach [them]…the right path” Proverbs 22:6. Otherwise they will inherit more than just your eye color; they end up with your emotional disposition and volatility!