Volcanoes and Screen Doors {On Anger}

It was one of those days when you wonder why God didn’t have mothers grow an arm for each child they birth. I know this would look awkward for mothers of 10 or 12, but me — I think I could handle 3 arms. It certainly would have helped the other day, when, in rushing to carry Seth through the screen door into the warmth, Claire got her finger sliced in the metal door frame. Blood drip, drip, dripped as she screamed in pain, the Seth cried at being abandoned on the screen porch, and I yelled for Jesse to fetch my phone so I could call Daddy to come home early from work.

I stayed calm through the clean up, comforting, and bandaging, and was very grateful for Daddy’s assessment that Claire would not need stitches. But then, while I was fixing a late and hurried lunch for tired, hungry kids, I heard a screech. I ran to where Sister was recovering on the couch and saw Big Brother hovering over her. Something snapped inside me and I turned on him, berating him for touching my poor, wounded baby. Turns out my anger was both out of bounds and ill-placed. He hadn’t touched her at all, but she had bumped herself trying to give Brother a look-see.

Shame and defeat overwhelmed me. I sullenly put lunch on the table then donned layers and grabbed my keys to go out in the cold again to fetch an herb my mother always recommended for cuts. I stewed and steamed all the way to the little Amish Natural Foods store and back with my packet of Slippery Elm Bark. “God! Why is anger my default? Why do I keep failing in this area over and over? I believe You can show me the way – I beg you to teach me Your truth!”

I pondered my sinful nature over the next few hours, but it wasn’t till a chat with a friend later that day that an answer began to form. {I have found He often speaks to me in the ‘gathering of two’ that happens when I fellowship with another mommy and we share our joys and failures honestly.} My friend confessed that she, too, seemed to respond all-too-often with misplaced, out-of-proportion emotion to a trial. As we pondered how we could reset that response, I realized, “You know, I think anger is a symptom – of something deeper.”

For me, anger is the emotion that surfaces when, deep down, I am afraid. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, runs like an underground river through my days. When something reminds me that I’m not measuring up, or my expectations are being threatened, that’s when I lose it – lashing out at my kids, my husband – whoever’s within range. Fact was, I felt like a failure having let my daughter get hurt, and I let my fear of not measuring up stir up a volcano of frustration in me that couldn’t help but erupt.

It happened again the next day, as I was clearing the kid’s toys and fort building material from my studio to try and get some sewing done. As I struggled to find my space and my tools amidst their arrangements, I was revving up for a rant, when the Holy Spirit stopped me. “The anger is a symptom of something deeper…what are you afraid of, Trina?”

I was afraid I wouldn’t get my project done. And then, the anger dissipated like a puff of ash in the wind as I saw how petty was the fear upon which it was based. It did not matter if I got the curtains sewn that day or any other day, for my kids are priority over curtains any day!

I took a deep breath, and let it out in a sigh of thanks to my Maker, who was already answering my prayer and patiently showing me the way.

Claire happily sucking a passy at naptime because of the injury to her sucking fingers

 

I wrote this two months ago now, and I’m excited to tell you that it’s working. He’s working. Often now when the anger rises, the Holy Spirit whispers truth and I’m released from the prison of reacting instead of responding. It’s an amazing experience and I hope by sharing this story you will be inspired and spurred on to responding properly to the daily trials as a mommy, or even bigger things…

I should also mention that Claire’s finger has healed up nicely 🙂

6 responses to “Volcanoes and Screen Doors {On Anger}”

  1. Mandy Avatar

    Yes, Biblically our anger is rooted in fear. I love the eloquent thoughts that Louie Priolo shares in his many books on this topic.

  2. Natasha Avatar

    Love this. Love how God teaches and changes and shows us truth in the middle of our weaknesses. How good He is!

  3. Jess Avatar

    Wonderful! And how very true. While I can’t say that my anger is from fear…or at least I can’t put my finger on it at the very moment I’m angry, but I’m sure it is. That this strong willed child is going to get the “worst” of me and I’ll fail her and God.

  4. Anne @ Quick and Easy Cheap and Healthy Avatar

    I find I get angry in instances exactly like the first one you described – when my older son is mean or overly physical with my younger son. My mother bear instincts come out like crazy and I just want to launch the older son up to the moon, lol. Our Sunday School class has been going through a series called “Getting to the Heart of Parenting”, and we’re learning how to address those moments of frustration in ways other than anger. Mostly by seeing it as an opportunity to teach about sin and grace. Both mine AND my sons’ attitudes are improving!

  5. Maria Avatar
    Maria

    Bless you for being honest!

    For me, anger is a cover up for hurt. I didn’t want to feel the hurt, so I turned to anger instead. Anger I could cope with; pain I couldn’t.

    So sweet of our Father to take us deeper and show us our hearts, and then lead us to truth, healing, and freedom.

  6. Lisa Avatar

    I’m SO GLAD you shared this. I think you really nailed it – anger = fear. When I first started reading I thought “I don’t have an anger problem.” Well I do – but mine is a very quiet one. And it is usually when my strong willed child seems out of control and I’m not reaching her. I get just numb with anger inside. But it really is because I am afraid. I often feel like a failure with her. I will think of what you wrote next time it happens and deal with the situation more head on! Lord willing anyway!

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