Rose Jackson © 7/15/2008
The rocket attack came from out of the blue. My husband and I were standing in the long line in front of the auditorium the night of our younger son’s final high school chorus concert, when Ethan called on my cell phone to ask if he could borrow some money so a fellow singer who hadn’t had dinner could get something to eat before the show. Phone in hand, I turned and explained the situation to my husband. I asked him if that would be okay, and he angrily fired off, “He’s your son!” Whoa – where did that come from?
Shell-shocked, I couldn’t imagine what provoked his angry attack or even what his comment meant. I didn’t know we were at war! Our son came out to get the money and told me it was for a good friend from church. I started to explain to my husband who the friend was, thinking an explanation would help, and he snapped, “Don’t tell me that. I don’t need to know!” Two rounds fired! This was no accidental friendly fire shooting! Instantly my defensive shields went up. I felt angry and confused, but I couldn’t lob any verbal grenades back at my husband because the women’s ministry director of our church was standing three people ahead of me. Trapped! I was pinned down, unable to defend myself.
I didn’t say anything when we got home that night, but the next morning I asked Jesus to help me find a positive way to express my feelings that would also bring a healthy resolution to the issue for both my husband and me. He did just that. At the breakfast table I told my husband I felt his words had been intentionally hurtful, and then I asked if he would speak to people at work the way he did to me the night before. He said no, but he didn’t think his words had been hurtful. Inside I was thinking, “Oh, come on,” but I asked him again if he would speak to other people that way, and he replied that he wouldn’t, because no one at work would speak to him the way I did. Puzzled because I hadn’t said anything nasty to him, but feeling a peace that surely came from God, I replied, “Your comment indicates that you do realize the words were hurtful.” I calmly, honestly stated that I couldn’t think of anything I’d said the previous night to merit hostile words. Amazingly, my husband’s demeanor changed and he acknowledged that he had been angry and intentionally used those hostile words. At that point we were able to identify what he had been angry about, discuss the situation, and come to a healthy resolution.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. . . . Turn from evil and do good; then you will always live securely. For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.” Psalm 37: 7-8, 27
Jesus turned what could have been explosive and damaging into something healing. Because it was unexpectedly healing, and because Jesus enabled me to uncharacteristically say something that maintained my dignity and still respected my husband, to me it was profoundly beautiful. Years ago for a book on prayer, I wrote an analogy comparing anger to broken glass on a playground. Broken glass is shiny and attractive, but you’d warn your child not to pick it up because, attractive as it looks, broken glass easily cuts anyone who handles it. Anger likewise cuts and wounds relationships. If she or he picked up a piece of broken glass, you’d immediately ask your child to either drop it or carefully hand it to you, so you could take care of it safely and properly. In the analogy, I wrote that the proper thing to do with anger is hand it to Jesus so he can dispose of it safely.
After our “chorus line” battle, though, I realized Jesus can do more than just dispose of our anger: if we let him (there’s the best battle plan), his hands can change it and transform our anger into something precious. Shards of broken anger can become beautiful like rounded sea glass. Atwww.americancraftworks.com/TheStoryofSeaglass.html I found a description of the process that turns trashed broken glass into beautiful sea glass:
“Sea glass, Beach glass or Mermaid tears, whatever you care to call them there’s no denying that the mighty ocean turns unwanted glass bottles into colorful glistening jewels of the sea. The ocean’s saltwater and sand combined with the various tides act like a giant rock tumbler & (sic) eventually turn sharp broken glass into beautifully rounded frosted jewels that wash up on the shoreline. . . . The Blues, Reds, lavenders & Sea Foam Green’s & Blues often fetch hefty prices in the jewelry market and some people and companies are making their own Sea Glass by ‘tumbling’ and passing them off as the real thing!”
I want the real thing, the crown jewels from a victory won. My battle is not “ . . . against flesh and blood, but against the . . . powers of this dark world.” (Ephesians 6:12)That’s another way to say that in interpersonal conflict, my worst enemy is my natural (sinful, there, I used the “S” word)instinct to retaliate. And oh, it is a battle! “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” ( Prov. 16:32) When we’re angry and defensive, it takes a warrior’s discipline and courage not to pull the pin and toss a grenade at whomever is in the next foxhole, but to pray and wait for God’s wisdom instead.
That day on my battlefield I handed Jesus the broken glass of my anger and asked his help in dealing positively with it. Jesus took it in his wounded hands and, through his tears and love, returned it to me transformed into a healthy response, something beautiful to be valued and prized, a trophy of a war won.
Dear Jesus, I have been wounded by other people’s anger and harsh, thoughtless words, BUT I surrender my own angry, defensive feelings to you, believing and expectantly waiting for you to show me how to respond in a way that’s upright, respectful, and healing for me and for the other person. I know that regardless of how the other person responds, what you do in me and for this relationship will be precious and beautiful.
YOUR OWN “BUT” Dear Jesus, I was wounded when ______________________ BUT I surrender my angry feelings to you, believing you ____________________________________.