In particular there was an incident this weekend in which I came really close to blowing it. I've mentioned in the past that I'm Italian so it should come as no shock and surprise that I have a temper. But I'm also a mamma, which mean when you mess with my kid, you get the protective mamma bear and the Italian temper in one big explosive package...
On Sunday we attended a birthday party at a local kid's museum. After the party the children were allowed to enjoy the museum on their own. My daughter took off with her friends and I sat down with the rest of the parents for a little quiet time and conversation. After a while it was time for us to leave and as I was collecting my things, saying goodbye to my friends, and rounding up my daughter a woman came over to me and asked, "Is that your child?" (pointing to Lexi). I said yes and then she came out with, "Well she's got some real aggression issues! She hurt my daughter." Her passive aggressive tone was quite evident. Immediately I apologized for my daughters behavior and before I could do anything further the woman just walked away from me. I looked around at my friends as if to say, "What just happened?" then I took my daughter by the hand to go and find the woman in hopes of smoothing out the situation.
That may have shown self-control and some growth on my part, but I have to say that if that woman had said anything else to me; uttered so much as another syllable in my direction, this would be a very different story. The rage inside me was over-the-top and my blood was boiling. In the past my response would have been quite different and I would have left that place without my dignity intact.
I came so close to loosing it, I wonder was I really displaying growth by restraining myself conscientiously or still sinning because of what was going on in my heart? To be honest, in my heart, I wanted to punch her smug face and anticipated an excuse to do just that. I visualized in my mind how it would have looked and how satisfying it would have been just to deck her. I could feel the energy of a strong punch welling up in my shoulder. I could see my fist tightening. I wanted to hear her gasp and feel the snap of her chin as my fist connected with her jaw bone. I wanted her eye glasses to go flying off her head and her body to hit the floor.
Restraint isn't growth. Restraint is more or less the fear of consequences. And I did fear the consequences, publicly embarrassing myself and my friends, possibly getting arrested, showing my daughter that violence and aggression is the way to solve problems, hurting another individual, frightening children and worse of all loosing my Christian witness. Those consequences certainly weren't worth the desire for vindication. But fear of consequences isn't a lack of sin. The sin was still there rolling around in my dirty heart. Still, I enjoy imagining myself hitting the woman. It's sin, it's evil, and every time I entertain it in my soul I grieve the Holy Spirit that lives in me.
As Christians we need to be growing. I've written about this in the past, growth in Christ is manifesting the gifts of the spirit, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience, gentleness faithfulness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Without the outward manifestation of fruit, we can hardly consider ourselves Christ-followers. We need to be allowing Christ to mold us and change us, not just showing restraint (self-control) in our actions and deeds but restraining our minds not to entertain such black sinful ideas and thriving on them. I got a rush out of the anger and aggression I felt inside me, I liked it and that's what's scared me to confess.
Do you struggle in this area as well? Pray with me. Father I lay bare my heart before you. Lord I ask that you would forgive me for my lack of growth in my heart. Forgive me Lord for my thoughts of aggression, forgive me for liking the feeling of hatred and allowing it to feed my soul. Forgive me for desiring to cause pain to another, and for not entertaining the idea of love and peace instead. Lord give me the strength I need to love my enemies and to pray for them. Let my life bear good fruit so that my witness will truly be a image of Christ. Help me to first of all forgive those who have angered me and caused me pain and allow my heart to be healed. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN
Photo credits: growth photo