by Mary McKenzie
For me, 9 times out of 10 when I get angry it is linked to impatience and I wouldn’t categorize it as “slow.” It typically comes on in a stressful situation. Most of the time it is my impatience, but other times it is someone else’s. One time in particular stands out in my mind, and I know you other mamas can relate…it was the sweet voice of my toddler asking for something from the backseat while I’m driving. That asking turned into a much louder “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy I want apple juice. Please. Mama, I’m thirsty. Apple Juice Mama. Pleaseeeee…” I have to give it to him, his persistence is quite charming, but in this moment it didn’t feel so charming. I unfortunately do not have apple juice on tap installed in the dash of my car to fulfill his “urgent” request, so I knew the begging would continue.
It was a tough moment to handle, therefore the absolute perfect moment for me to be reminded of our verse this week.
“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19b-20
I had the choice right then to show my child how anger can come out in a time of stress by raising my voice to get him to stop begging me for something he didn’t actually need or I could call on God’s grace and show him that in a time of stress, love can pour out instead. Human nature is to react in a way that isn’t graceful, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can ask Him to speak through us. We can give it to Him. Gigantic praise for that, right?! I would much rather God’s words come through my mouth than my own.
As I held my tongue and kept asking God for help while I drove along, He gently reminded me that this child’s insistent words were actually answers to my prayers. Last year, he was saying few words at all and I prayed for more. I would never have looked at it this way on my own, but God helped me to see. My eyes are so much cloudier than our Heavenly Father’s.
He reminded me that through Him I have the opportunity to teach patience by example. If I tell my child to have patience but then do the exact opposite, how is that teaching him? If I tell my child to be slow to anger, but then raise my voice in annoyance, how is that teaching him? That’s not God’s way, that’s my way.
Because of these reminders, I was able to say to my child “Mama is thirsty too, why don’t we have a big glass of water together when we get home and finish the fire truck puzzle we started this morning?” His voice lowered and he said “Oh yeah fire truck puzzle, yeah Mama!”
How many times am I the toddler in my life, relentlessly begging God for something I WANT and not understanding why I can’t have it right then. He could easily respond with a big, loud NO. But He doesn’t, He is quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. He knows what I NEED is not necessarily what I WANT. He invites me to spend time with Him because that is far more sustaining than anything else.
I fall short every day with this motherhood gig, but I can stand with confidence in telling you that He does not fall short. He does not disappoint. He does not yell at us from the front seat. He may not always give us the apple juice we want when we want it, but He’ll give us a cold glass of water and a permanent place in His arms if we slow down our anger enough to receive it.