Every once in a while, I would get involved in a heated argument with my husband. It’s actually not often, but perhaps because it rarely happens, it always went beyond what I hope as a standard of healthy argument should be.
I think when both parties were filled with anger, no one was able to think straight. And words were flying so fast in every direction and soon enough we couldn’t control ourselves anymore and the fight began.
I’m reminded of the many accidents my children bickering between each other. Something that started innocent and fun could end up in a huge argument, even a fight with pinching or kicking someone else, and one or both of them would start to let a giant cry… And no, it’s just impossible to stay calm in this chaotic situation.
Again and again I teach my children that words are just like little flames – candle flames. They are nice and warm, beautiful and charming. But if these little flames are fired fast and randomly, it turns to be a big fire that is difficult to control.
I always teach my children to know when to stop. Stopping when it’s not hot enough. Stopping when it’s still possible to stop. Stopping when you’re not burned yet with all the rage caused by non-stop ugly comments. Stop when you’re not yet hurting each other.
But apparently, it’s not so easy to do. Even as two adults and parents, we – my husband and I, didn’t do it well enough. We didn’t stop it quick enough before it spreaded further. The fight should not have been big if only we practiced more self-control, but yeah, I guess the combination of work-stress related and tiredness didn’t help. While we’re not frequently having big arguments, I do admit we still have something to learn.
The Anger of Man
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If I take a deeper look at why I feel angry, I think it has something to do with not getting enough of something for MYself. I don’t get enough appreciation. I don’t get enough rewards. I don’t get enough satisfaction. I don’t get enough understanding and sympathy. I don’t get enough anything that should have been MY RIGHT.
Two people in an argument are two people who try their best to defend each of their rights for something that is supposedly to be received front the other end of the party.
I AM angry because YOU SHOULD respect me.
I AM angry because YOU SHOULD give that toy to ME. I MUST have it NOW.
I AM angry because HE calls me names, and HE SHOULD say sorry!
I AM angry because I’M tired and HE SHOULD have understood and helped ME.
The anger we experience is mostly about OURselves, and not others. Even when it is about others, often (while not always) it’s still something about ME.
I AM angry because he insulted MY child. I AM angry because that way, he also insulted ME.
It’s not always about ourselves, for sure. But very often it is well about US who don’t get enough of anything we feel we deserve.
James 1: 20 (ESV) says, “for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
When WE are angry because we don’t get something according to OUR rights, actually at the same time we have put ourselves high on the pedestal, on the place that actually belongs to God. God should be the Highest ONE in all aspects of our lives, and even when other people purposely (or by accident) lower our value or diminish our rights, as the servant of God we shouldn’t bother it very much because 1. The Bible says that our anger doesn’t produce any righteousness within us, 2. Our anger shows that we do glorify our own names or rights higher than we glorify God.
Whoever wants to be great must be a servant (Matthew 20:26). We don’t exactly become great and honored just because we try to defend our rights and demand others to pay respect to ourselves. It should have been about God, and not about you. When we think less about ourselves and all the glory attached to it, we get more room and space in our lives to glorify God and put Him on His righteous throne.
It’s Not (Always) About Us
The greatest commandments we have as followers of Christ is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind; and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36). When we think first about God and our neighbour’s importance and needs instead of putting ourselves at the first question, subsequently we become slower to get irritated and angry.
I think what differentiate the whole being children and adults is the ability to get out of our self-centred system of thinking. Children tend to think first about themselves, about their needs. They are angry when they are hungry, dissatisfied, frustrated, needy. There are a lot of considerate young children, thanks to good upbringing from the parents, but still it’s just the nature of children to first think about themselves and later about others. This answers why children argue and fight more frequently than adults (in normal situations hehe). They are prone to getting frustrated and unfulfilled.
Adults, on the other hand, are supposedly equipped with the ability to think about others. As we grow up, we learn that our lives are not only about us. We have our parents to respect and to obey, we have friends and family to consider. And before someone grows his role to be a husband, he has to be ready to first think about the needs of his wife and his family above himself, just like a woman turning a mother would put her children’s needs before her ego.
When an adult is not ready to live such a concept, he or she better not apply for a greater role, because without the ability to think about others first, we would only put ourselves in the jeopardy of daily fights.
The Bible provides us one practical recipe on how we could think of others before ourselves:
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (James 1:19, ESV).
We can do and show our effort in the interest of others by hearing and listening. By listening we get more knowledge and understanding of their state, their condition, and hence we are able to give appropriate responses.
I have to admit when I did have the argument with my husband, both of us were not in the state where we were willing to listen to each other. We were too busy to snatch the opportunity to speak and prove to the other person that our statements were the right ones.
The willingness to listen to others can send the signals to the other persons that they are important and they’re regarded. This creates a feeling of safety and simultaneously opens the door to more communication.
While I’m not hoping my husband would read this post and learn from it (haha), the purpose of this writing is entirely meant for my own personal learning. Only when we agree and are open to learning and to change, we could ever hope to see the learning and the change in others. Amen.