I am not signing a temperance pledge, I am signing an internal pledge to not lose my temper. It is something I have struggled with my entire life and in recent times have discovered I don’t tantrum as much. In fact I can’t remember the last time I did, that is how long ago it is.
It got me thinking about that boiling anger that erupts out of nowhere and explodes like a scatter bomb. King David displayed it when Nathan told him the parable of the rich and poor man. I wondered did I tantrum in response to being put on the back foot, was it some primeval response to being humiliated, was it some internal judgement switch that came on in an instant because something was unfair.
And that got me thinking about what was unfair:
- The socio-political culture in all countries, power corrupts; in this country we have an attitude that we would do exactly the same thing in the politicians’ place. I disagree, I think we would face the same temptations that politicians face, but I think we would be so overwhelmed by the salary received we might not claim expenses. Then a year or two down the line we might slip in a receipt for something possibly dodgy, sure that’s okay. We don’t know it is actually dodgy, we just think it might be, the next year it will be something else until, yes we are as guilty as the present encumbered. It is that slight leak, that imperceptible movement away from what is right. So we need to get off our moral high ground and admit that we too when in power could be corrupt.
- That people in this world are denied basic rights of clean water, food and shelter. We do our bit, don’t we, put money into tins as we go about our grocery shopping, maybe even sponsor a child, but have we put any thought into how the world’s water can be purified effectively and cheaply, have we considered developing a new kind of housing (portable, rainproof, windproof, sun proof) perhaps incorporating solar panels to be used as energy. And if we have thought about it, did we research it, found out what materials were already available.
- That polio is rife in this world, a friend of mine is in her fifties, she is one of the last victims of polio born in Ireland. It was an aging population (in a good way) and then we had a few people come to live here from other countries and polio was seen again in younger people. One drop of vaccine on a sugar lump to every child in the world would eradicate this disease, the same goes for all those other diseases we don’t have anymore e.g. small pox, TB. How to go about it? How to give these lifesaving vaccines? Volunteer on a vaccine programme? Find a way to get the vaccine to where it’s needed using existing transportation (free).
- There are many more unfairnesses in this country and beyond. but listing them isn’t going to change the world, but we can.
It is not unfair that you sat in my pew in church, or stepped on my toe in a queue, or served another person when I was clearly next, or laughed at me tripping, or any number of other things that we, as people with roofs over our heads and food in our healthy bodies consider unfair.
So unfairness is rife in the world, suffering is present in the world, but if our reply is to have a tantrum at God, blame him for human-made suffering then we are focussing our anger in the wrong place. We can stomp up and down all we like but it is human- made suffering so we as humans need to make changes.
In a small way we can do this individually; forgiving debt not just financially but in every way. Part of the Lord’s prayer talks about us forgiving others because we have been forgiven. Do we practice this? We have to if we are to keep our hearts soft, bitterness free. We can live in personal jubilee. Yes, get angry at the important things, but not if someone sits in your chair or forgets to ring or misses your wave in the car. As soon as the tantrum begins to rise ask for forgiveness first then forgive the person initiating the tantrum
And why don’t I tantrum anymore, well firstly because I communicate mostly in writing and there is something permanent in writing. Last year sometime someone was playing me and I was doing the seven times seventy thing and getting nowhere. One email was sent to me that pushed all the right buttons and I answered in frustration, a simple sentence or two but enough to give this unhealthy person enough ammunition to keep the bitterness going forever. At that point I decided that everything I spoke or wrote would be seasoned, well seasoned and any bitter thought I had would be dealt with in prayer. The other thing is as a result of this and other glorious stuff that happened last year I can truly say I am living in that personal jubilee, I am free and because of the freedom given freely by the Lord all I can do is glorify his name in each action I do. I am His.