Saturday, December 3, 2011

Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak, and Slow to Anger

I have always been a temperamental person. As a young child, I loved to stomp and slam doors. As a teenager, this behavior continued, but was usually followed by long periods of sulking where I hated the world. And sassy??? It should have had my picture next to the word in the dictionary. I apologize frequently to my Mama for my behavior.
As I've gotten older, I've gotten a little calmer, but certain things still push my buttons. I get angry when I see someone being treated unfairly. I get angry when I see someone being hurt. I get angry when Caleb smarts off or doesn't listen or when I am stressed out and impatient and allow myself to react. I get angry at Wallace... well, a lot. And what always makes me even madder at Wallace is that I like to verbally spar, and he... doesn't. I get angry when I feel like I'm being taken advantage of. I get angry when someone hurts someone I love.
My first reaction when I am angry? You guessed it right if you said spout out at the mouth. I want to tell everyone. I want to make the injustice known and hopefully have someone agree with me. My second reaction? To run it into the ground. Over and over and over. I hold grudges, even when I know I'm not supposed to.
This goes strictly against what I'm supposed to do. In James 1:19, we are instructed to be "Quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger."
What, God??? Are you serious???? I'm supposed to sit quietly while I listen to what others say... often when what they are saying is far from the truth and reflect their version of the story. When what they are saying hurts the people I love... or me? When the whole time that I am TRYING to maintain my calmness while I listen inside my head I am screaming, "BUT"... Yep. Quick to listen. Because there are two sides to every story. And everyone has the right to speak their peace. And because often, when you truly listen (not just to the words, but to what they say), you'll really hear what a person is saying. And maybe what they're saying isn't what you thought they were saying at first at all.
Next, we're supposed to be slow to speak. I think this means we're supposed to think about what we say, and how we say it. In a world full of instant access, social media and tweets and status updates and emails, I think this verse is never more important. Because once words are spoken, or typed or sent, they can't be taken back. And words hurt.
Slow to anger... I think this is last because IF we are quick to listen, really listen to others, and IF we are slow to speak, allowing our brains to process what our hearts are screaming, we CAN be slow to anger, because we are given the opportunity to respond appropriately.
I'm not saying that I have this down pat. Far from it. I'm not a good listener; in fact, I'm often formulating my counter-attack in my head while the person is speaking. I still run my mouth, and use that tone that grates on Wallace's nerves. And I still get angry. In fact, I got angry tonight over a situation that I shouldn't have. Anger isn't a sin. Jesus even got angry; think of what he did when he found them selling in his Father's house (Matt 21:12) Actions that are rooted in anger sometimes become sin. I think this is why God brought this verse that I read the beginning of the week to mind. Not all battles are mine; in fact, none of them are. My job is to do the best I can to be a light in this dark world, and to show love even when it seems like it's hard. So Lord, help me keep my ears open, my mouth shut, and my heart on fire only for You.

No comments:

Post a Comment