Raised voices, accusations, stomped feet, and then a slammed door; I could hear them arguing from the other room.
Knowing that this sounded like an argument that needed some mama-mediation, I left my cup of coffee and headed for their room. I could hear the tension and could feel the anger as I approached the
slammed door war zone. But before I could knock, our middle child came out in a flurry of frustration.
Huffing and puffing, she breathed her anger out through her nose and out into the air.
“I’m just SO mad at him. He doesn’t even listen to me, and he always has to be right about what he is saying!!!”
The tears were just beneath the surface, and I could see the tremble in her clenched hands. She was hot, and he was hotter.
Yelling through the door, I heard, “You don’t even listen to ME!!! You make me SOOOOO angry, Evie!!!”
Genuinely, I felt like I needed armor and maybe even a Nerf gun, or three. For reals though. Sibling arguments are NOT for the faint of heart OR for the impatient (of which I can boast of neither in the affirmative).
Taking a deep breath, I counted to three in my head and turned toward Evie (the one outside the door).
But before I could finish my question, she said, “You know what? I know what I need to do. I need to put an end to this.”
Fearing the worst (because seriously, what kind of “end” was she planning for him???), I asked, “What do you mean, sweetheart?”
“I need to stop arguing, mommy, and I just need to put an end to our anger. I need to apologize and stop all of this.”
As she turned, my eyes welled and my heart grew. I was SO proud of her maturity, and I was incredibly encouraged by her humility; growth was happening in her heart, and I could see the Spirit at work within hers. But within seconds of feeling “ALL THE GREAT THINGS,” I heard our oldest yell (from behind the door), “I’m never talking to you again!!!”
Stopping smack in her tracks, the tears immediately spilled onto her cheeks as she stood behind the closed door, looking at me.
Man alive, Mama Bear wanted to go into that room and rip him a new one. I wanted to protect her pride; I wanted to fight for her; and I wanted to humble him in the process.
But I didn’t.
I looked at her with steady and even eyes and I simply said, “Evie, if the Spirit is nudging you to do the right thing, then follow through. He’ll take care of the response, sweet girl, but you are responsible for your heart.”
With a resolute but gentle look in her eye, she turned and opened the door. And in the quietest, most humble voice, she said, “Caden, I’m sorry. I don’t want to fight with you, and I don’t want to continue this. I’m sorry for my part.”
Peering around the corner with held breath, I saw his face-armor immediately fall.
With stunned eyes the size of a Texas pancake and a tender softness that is not typical of our boy, he looked at her and said, “I forgive you, and I’m sorry, too. I was also wrong for yelling and responding in anger. Will you forgive me?”
“Yes, I forgive you, too.”
Leaving the room to give space for continued cooling, she came out to find me. But before she could open her mouth, I gathered her into my arms and said, “Evie, I’m so grateful that you followed the Spirit. I know we’re not always guaranteed a good response here on earth, but God is always honored by our humble obedience.”
With a huge smile, she simply said, “I’m glad I put a good end to that.”
“Me too, sweet girl. Me too.”
As I thought about the events of the afternoon and replayed them in my head, the words of Proverbs 15:1 came to mind.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Wasn’t that exactly what had happened?!?!
In the face of anger, she chose softness and in the face of wrath, she chose humility. Instead of stirring the pot and stoking the fire, she cooled the fire and slowed the boil.
And the outcome?
Wrath was turned away and anger was stifled.
Now I realize that this isn’t always the case with every person and every scenario (there’s always two parties involved and not every party is always willing), but I wonder how many times we miss this “being the case” because we never even give it a try.
I wonder if our anger burns so quick and so hot that we miss the opportunity to cool the fire. I wonder if our fears about their response gets in the way of our gentle attempts. I wonder if our pride blocks out the nudges of His voice. Goodness, I wonder if our own wounds get in the way of our willing obedience.
Whatever the case and whatever the reasons, we’ve all been there. More often that not and more times than we like, our anger has been stirred and our wrath has been raised.
But what would happen if we were quicker to lay down our arrows?
What would possibly heal if we were willing to let go of our own wounded pride and acknowledge our part?
Goodness, what holiness might come from “putting an end” to our anger and choosing gentleness instead?
Friends, there’s no guarantee to the outcome and no assurance of a reciprocated response, but might I suggest that humble obedience (in the face of anger) is always the reward?
I don’t know what anger you’re facing, what anger you’re stoking, or what anger you’re nursing, but I pray that with the empowerment of the Spirit, you will mimic the footsteps of the five year-old (and of our heavenly Father) and “put a good end to that.”
But now you must PUT THEM ALL AWAY: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
PUT ON THEN, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:8, 12-13