This week I have started re-reading Carolyn Mahaney's book entitled "Feminine Appeal- Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother". A must-read! This morning during my quiet-time, I was reading in the chapter concerning "kindness" and "goodness", specifically the hindrances we encounter when trying to display biblical kindness and goodness. I just HAVE to share this portion of the text because it's something that I struggle with personally as a wife and mom. Perhaps some of you other women out there can relate. May you be encouraged!
Hindrance #1: Anger
If we hold out a soaking wet sponge and squeeze it, what will happen? Water will fall on the floor. We may look at the puddle and think it was caused by the squeeze. However, the squeeze only revealed what was already in the sponge. You could squeeze a dry sponge, but no water would come out.
What's the point?
As with a sponge, what is in our hearts will spill out of us when the squeeze is on. In other words, difficult interactions or trying experiences (the squeeze perpetrators) are not the cause of our angry reactions; rather they serve to reveal the sin that was there all along. Matthew 15:18 says that "what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart."
Expressions of anger reveal sinful desires in our hearts, cravings that are not being satisfied. Dr. David Powlison offers this description of sinful anger: "I want my way and not God's, and because I can't have my way, I rage." As it says in James 4:1-2, "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have."
So what do I want that I'm not getting? Am I craving peace and quiet, convenience and ease, a clean and orderly house, appreciation and recognition? Or do I long to get even, inflict hurt, be right, win the argument? Whatever it is, we need to recognize that "wanting my way" is really the driving force that propels our anger.
...as Dr. David Powlison (paraphrasing John Calvin) articulates: "The evil in our desires often lies not in what we want but that we want it too much."
Scripture's Solution to Anger
After a straightforward diagnosis of our anger, James 4 prescribes the remedy: We must humble ourselves and submit to God (vv. 6-10). When we are tempted to sinful anger, we must ask the Holy Spirit to open our spiritual eyes to perceive the sinfulness of our cravings.
It is helpful to ask the question: "What do I want MORE than I want to please God?" Then we must confess and repent from these evil desires. This requires humility, but we have God's pledge that He will give grace to the humble (James 4:6). He will help us turn from anger and cultivate kindness.
After reading this portion of text, my heart was heavy with grief and conviction. I realized that much of the anger and frustration I experience throughout the day is due to cravings that are not being met:
-I want peace and quiet
-I want a clean and orderly home
-I want/expect obedience
-I don't want to be interrupted
-I want to sit on the couch, not get up and discipline/train
-I don't feel like making dinner/doing laundry/etc.
-I should be able to get a nap
Some of these desires are not bad in and of themselves, but they become sinful when I react with anger when they are not met... when I want them MORE than I want to please God.
Thankfully, I have been given a Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). God knows that in my own strength, I am incapable of always being kind and good. He desires me to walk with Him and to rely upon His strength.
If you are a born-again believer, you too, have been given a Helper. God does not desire you to live your life in your own strength. If you are struggling to be kind and good as a wife and/or mom, may I encourage you to humble yourself today, now... confess, repent, and ask for the Holy Spirit to be your Helper in this awesome task.