“count it all joy”
I had an interesting altercation a few weeks ago. It was a bad situation that actually went very smoothly, but that I learned a huge lesson from anyway.
The family was at a sort of harvest festival, enjoying some of the activities provided, when one of the volunteer helpers yelled at my kids. They were doing something that wasn’t allowed, but only because they didn’t know it wasn’t allowed. They are really very good kids.
Mr Volunteer didn’t know that, of course. He only knew that they were doing something they shouldn’t have been, so he yelled at them to stop.
I wasn’t with my kids at the time. I was about 20 feet away with the Apple of my Eye. But at the yelling, we both looked over, and though it wasn’t immediately apparent who he was yelling at, (there were a lot of people in the vicinity) I heard my kids apologize, so I knew it was them.
Well I don’t know if you’re familiar with how a mom feels when someone is unkind to her children, but I was livid. I know my kids aren’t perfect, but they only have to be told something once. So yelling is unnecessary.
So I told him so. I walked over, and said in a very calm, but teary voice, that I did not appreciate him yelling at my kids. He responded, calmly but defensively, that they were doing something they shouldn’t have been. I told him that I appreciated his message, but I did not appreciate the way he told them. Yelling wasn’t necessary.
And you know what he said? He said, “You’re right. I’m sorry.” And then he apologized to my kids, who of course apologized profusely to him, for what they had done. It was all surprisingly pleasant. I was so appreciative that he actually heard what I was saying, and instead of just focusing on the crime, he saw that he could have handled it better, and then agreed with me. I walked away from the whole experience pleasantly surprised that customer service still exists in the world.
But in the next few days, I started to have very serious doubts about how “successful” the whole thing had been. I started to think about how very, very wrong I had been, to be so angry. I thought about the actions our anger can lead to, and about the consequences of those actions.
I thought about the fact that even righteous anger has consequences. And are they worth it? And what exactly “righteous” anger means. And am I qualified to judge what is “righteous” anger and what isn’t?
I thought about the difference between “speaking the truth in love” and just getting it off your chest.
I thought about the fact that God understood my anger. But that He sent His only Son, and did not defend Him. And that Jesus was not thinking about vengeance or even vindication when He was “wronged”.
I thought about Jesus’ message that anger is like murder in God’s eyes, because it’s about the state of the heart.
The hard part is turning the other cheek, when it’s not your cheek to turn. The joy is that He understands, and He forgives.