Have you ever made a rash decision made from temper? Did you regret it later on, after you have calmed down?
At some point in our lives, we all make bad decisions based upon our emotions. We’re too quick to respond. We may say something we don’t really mean, or at least know we shouldn’t say. Sometimes we might respond physically, whether
A fiction story I just finished, book one of Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson, showed this in a drastic way. The main character, Jodi, fought with her husband. She was supposed to be at her prayer group at 5 pm and had asked him to get home in time so she could use their only car to get there. Not only did he arrive home late, but she could smell alcohol on his breath. She was angry, livid. And she allowed her emotions to control her words and actions.
As she drove, angry, crying, in the pouring rain of the thunderstorm, the consequences of her actions showed up. At the next intersection, she tried to beat the light. What happened next would haunt her for the rest of her life. A face in the dark lit up in the headlights of her car. She tried to stop, but despite her attempt, she heard a thud and then was hit by an oncoming car, landing her in the hospital.
The thump? The face? A thirteen-year-old boy who now would never have the opportunity to grow up and become a man.
Jodi had to face charges pressed against her while recovering from her injuries which included a metal rod in her leg.
And what about Denny, her husband? It turns out that his actions were based upon his own anger. He was “irritated that [she’d] gone off to visit [her friend’s] church instead of coming to [their church] with the family, jealous that [her prayer group] was taking up half of [their] Sunday evenings,” among other worries and fears he had at the time about his job (pg. 371).
He admitted to having too many beers because of this, and making Jodi “sweat” while waiting for him to come home; Denny purposely came home as close to 5
Though our reactions may not go that far, what we do can still cause harm. We could hurt the person we lash out at, possibly losing their trust or causing them to see us in a light we really wish they didn’t.
We could break items we decided to take our anger out on. Around my house, we have a busted door, a small hole in the wall, and a large crack in our glass stove. All a product of someone’s anger.
There are times when we find ourselves as Solomon’s fool.
Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his follyProverbs 13:16 NIV
Wise people think before they act; fools don’t…Proverbs 13:16 NLT
So what do we do to combat this?
To start, we need to try to preempt it. When someone makes us angry, hurts us, says something we don’t like, we can’t react in the moment. What we need to do is:
Take a deep breath.
Regardless of what the intention of the other person is, we need to make the choice to do what is right, what will glorify God.
Before responding to an email, sit on it for a day. Then reread the email and see how you could better respond. At times, you may find that what was written is not what we originally thought. If you have written a reactionary email back, don’t send it. Again, wait a day and then read it. Does it glorify God? Does it make you look like a jerk?
What if you’re face-to-face with the person? What then? You still need to employ the strategy above. If you can’t find something good to say after that, then it’s your responsibility to tell the person that you need to walk away and think about what they just said. Let them know that you will get back to them (not at them) when you’ve had time to process everything that was just said.
Taking time to respond makes a difference. It gives us time to calm down, to get in our right minds and fully assess the situation. Taking time to respond allows us to continue on the right path and not get blown off course by the wind. We are able to keep our feet firmly planted.
Think about this the next time someone makes you angry. Remember to Stop. Take a deep breath. Think. And then maybe take another deep breath. From there, you can make the right decision.
Lord, heavenly Father, I thank You for the lessons You teach me, lessons that show me how to walk Your path. Thank You, Lord, for reminding me that when I react in my temper, I am a fool. Help me, Lord, to be prudent, to think before I act. In Your Name, I pray, Amen.