Conflicted, Confused? Not really.

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I selected this picture, because I know many of us feel this way right now.  I wish I could say it was about the election, that would actually be easier.  Instead, it’s another Christian leadership controversy… that involves women.  Ugh.  Lord, help us.

As a woman, a Christian woman, I remember things I once believed but through time, education, and experience I have changed my opinions on.  At one time I was a staunch believer that women couldn’t be Pastors, because the Bible said so.  That women could only teach women, because the Bible said so.   It appeared so black and white.  It was Titus 2:3-5 for all occasions, times, places.  Done deal.

It was when I was actually challenged to defend my argument by using the scriptures, that I realized that wasn’t so crystal clear.  I couldn’t deny that there were times the Lord pulled women up into leadership or gave them incredible responsibilities.  I settled on the fact that the scriptures state that we are all one in Jesus (Gal 3:28), and that it was within reason that according to His will and His needs that God would appoint women in to leadership roles typical reserved for men.  I even used the scriptures to determine when those occasions would be, what expectations would be of these women, etc.  (This is a post for another day).

So, I can understand how over time with research and due diligence one’s understanding of the Word can clarify and our positions on a subject may change.  I do not hold growth against anyone.  We should all have a better understanding of the scriptures today than we did five or more years ago.  What I struggle with is when I see leaders publicly malign the Word of God.  At the end of Titus 2:3-5, the scriptures remind us that our teaching of others and our good character is a reflection on God.  We are literally told that all of this is so that we may never (or never be accused) of maligning the Word of God.

Over a week ago, a popular Christian author for women was caught up in controversy.  She and her husband made statement that they had changed their opinions on a subject, claiming to have done the due diligence and research required.  Their normal stance on loving and coming up alongside took a turn.  Now she was calling something the scriptures called “sin” as something that can be “holy”.   Let me be perfectly clear that I own several of her books, as well as her husband’s.  I think they have done amazing things, great things.  And so, I took a position.  I was going to separate the wheat from the chaff.

I could continue to glean the good from her work, and I would have to disregard the bad.  It wasn’t up to me to judge her.  As a friend said, even a broken clock is right twice a day.  Even from a purely secular position, they speak words of love, concern, compassion, empathy, reconciliation, forgiveness, grace, mercy, et’al.  All wonderful things, scripturally supported.  Then came the speed bump.  But I thought, I can handle this.  I’ll treat her like a secular author.  Separate wheat from chaff.  Separate.

Yesterday, I was preparing to leave to speak to a group of women leaders.  I took a last glance at headlines, and I saw it.  A popular Christian speaker and author I follow was trending. That caught my attention.  I was not prepared for what the headlines were saying and what they implied.  I had to read the article twice to wrap my head around all of the facts.  On the drive, I was in full worship mode.  At the event we were sharing scripture, and the words about Titus 2:3-5 were spoken.  As leaders/teachers we are not to malign the Word of God.

That stuck with me on the ride back home.  As I listened to worship music, praying to God through the lyrics.  I blurted out… they are wrong.

I can love them.  I can love the work they do.  I can see the value they add to the world.  I can learn from them about many things.  I can even see the sincerity of their heart.  I believe they truly feel they have come to the right conclusion.  I can’t hold that against them.  We’ve all been there.  However, they have brought this forward in the public view.  They have put us all in a position to make a choice.

Will I side with someone who has a heart that loves God and people, but has a flawed heart, and publicly teaches from that flawed heart…

or

… will I malign the Word of God?

When I put it like that, it’s clear.  I can not malign the Word of God.  By supporting the stances of these 3 people (and the sheer number that are rallying around them, sharing the same opinions)… I am by association standing in agreement with these three leaders.  Because, this is not an “agree to disagree” situation.

What does this mean?

I know that it means those who follow this blog, who have always criticized these people from the start… you need to pray for them.  Not judge them.  Pray for them, regularly.  They have a far reach and we need to pray that they return to the Scriptures and align with God.

I know that it means those who follow this blog, who are part of the fan club… you will probably stop following me.  My blog numbers may go down, twitter and instagram too.  I may get hate mail.  Some family will be “disappointed” in me.  I understand your loyalty.  They are good people, who have huge hearts, and do amazing things.  They have even challenged me to be a better person.  But I won’t reverse my opinion, they are wrong.  And those who love and support them should be praying for them, as well.

I hope that it means for those who are confused and conflicted, that I have provided some clarity.  I apologize for not having clearer perspective my first go around on this subject.  Let’s talk and work this out together. Pray for clarity and discernment.  Learn the Scriptures so that you can be a good Berean, testing against the Word.  Be responsible with the Word, so that we do not malign it.

And for those who have no clue what I am talking about, it’s probably a great blessing you don’t.  We know the phrase “curiosity killed the cat”, and I’ll admit it won’t take you long to figure out who I am writing about.  I’d prefer you not hunt it down, or engage with gossip and slander.  What you can do is pray for our leaders.

I’d encourage you to take some time, dig into 2 Timothy 3, and ask the Lord to reveal truths of what is happening in our world and through our leaders.

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So… I saw Bad Moms, and I laughed.

In case you don’t have any clue what movie I am talking about, here is a promo shot:

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First, I’d like to admit right out of the gate I didn’t walk into this movie with naive expectations.  The trailers gave a pretty good indication that there would be some inappropriate humor.  Second, I am not planning on giving away any spoilers.  There were definitely some parts I thought the movie could have lived without, not only for the story line but even in the presentation.  Sometimes it could go too far.  Third, there were some parts of this that were REALLY unrealistic when you are talking about any group of moms.  Lastly, there were also a LOT of truths.

Overall, I laughed and I laughed hard.  At one point I laughed so hard (as I was taking a sip from my straw) that I pushed air through the straw, which caused a small tidal wave in my cup, and that resulted in my drink landing in my eyes.  Which just caused a whole other fit of laughter for myself and those sitting around me.  I laughed until I cried and my stomach hurt.  Yet, there were some moments that I nodded in solidarity.  There were moments that were uncomfortable.  And, yes… as I said before totally unnecessary.

What I want to write about (and I’m up for conversation too) is WHY a movie like this not only resonated with moms but was drawing us in like moths to a flame.

My first thought is probably the most obvious, there is an enormous amount of pressure on moms to be it all, do it all, and do so perfectly.  Whether it is the perfect birthday party, bento box lunches, or simply making it to every school and sport activity… we feel the pressure.  We notice so much of what is around us, like the mom who has the perfect hair and make up in the parent pick up line… when we were struggling to get out of the house with a bra under our pajama shirt.  We see the kids with the perfectly styled hair, accessories, and sparkling white sneakers…. and we just spent the last 40 minutes looking for eyeglasses or a belt.  Other moms dropping their kids off early, and we are 10 minutes late because we had to go back home and pick up the flute that was left behind… or because our darling child took 15 minutes to brush her teeth.

How do these moms do it?  We cast shade in their direction, but really we are asking ourselves… why can’t I do it?

I think there are a number of moms who have run the scenario through their head of just saying no.  No to the requests by the husband, kids, school, coaches, etc.  An opportunity to just walk away from the pressure and enjoy life again.  To make the choice of not being the perfect mom anymore, and instead be the bad mom.

This brings me to my second thought, as you watch the trailers you see a group of women having fun. We are not talking bunko party fundraiser fun, but the kind of fun we had as teenagers  and young single adults.  The fun we had when we didn’t care what others thought, where it was ok to be silly, and there was an expected freedom in the general knowledge we were going to make mistakes and bad choices.  It takes us back to a time when we didn’t have to be an adult, and could just let loose and be free.

With motherhood came some sort of unwritten code of conduct, that we couldn’t be silly anymore.  We began to take everything too seriously, including ourselves.  Let’s face it, books and the advice of television “experts” reinforced this.  Reminding us over and over again that it was time to grow up, put away childish things, and get our heads out of the clouds.  As we did this, many of us sent fun sailing away for good.  We stopped smiling, we stopped laughing, and we stopped being silly.

The movie Bad Moms called out to that free spirit inside of us, that desperately wanted to laugh… and laugh hard.  So, it pulls out all the stops.  The women let loose in a way we couldn’t, and we live vicariously through them.  They say the things that roll through our minds & do the things we secretly wished we could.  (Ok, maybe not all of the things they say and do, but you get the point).

I also believe this appeals to Christian women so deeply because of the bar that is set for our expected behavior.  If other moms are feeling the pressure to be perfect in their every day life, Christian moms understand the additional expectations put on the Christian mom.  To have perfect children that love Jesus, quote the bible, volunteer with the elderly, and gladly donate all their birthday money to the missions fund.  To be women who are serious about the study of the Lord, leading small groups, inviting women over to mentor and pray together, to dress in simple clothes, and be ever diligent in our choices of entertainment.  There is a pressure that all of our time should be so seriously focused on Christ, that we can’t let loose and laugh until our sides hurt.

Confession… I saw the movie on opening night.  It’s taken me almost a month to admit I saw it, because frankly… I expected to be judged for it.  I was worried about what my church friends, my readers that look to me for wisdom, the women or leaders who are reading through my blog trying to decide if I would be the right speaker for their next women’s event… what would these people think of me?

I learned something from the movie though… my eyes were opened to how long it had been since I had laughed so much and so hard.  I realized how seriously I take myself and made the decision not to.  I embraced that silliness is okay and even healthy for my kids to see.  I made the decision that I wanted to laugh more, but with those whom I am the closest to… not a theater full of strangers.  I want that girl posse who has my back, in the most biblical way possible… and who will be silly with me.  Women who know how to laugh, smile, and stop trying to be something that is impossible to attain… perfect.

All of those parts of the movie that I thought were unnecessary, they don’t have to be part of my life.  But the good stuff… I welcome it.  We are all GOOD MOMS despite our imperfections and the times we muck things up… because we are LOVING MOMS.  In the end that is what matters.  The Lord didn’t call us to a life of misery, but of fulfillment and joy as mothers… and laughter.  So much laughter.

I’m Asking for Trust, Not Power

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I’ve spent a little over a year doing some self examination, particularly in the area of leadership.  I came to a realization today, and jumped right to the keyboard to share it.  What I realized was my greatest struggle in leadership (now, and in the past) has always fallen in the difference between POWER and TRUST.   This applies to my management background and even within my ministry work.

Men, generally speaking, are looking for power and authority.  They climb the corporate ladder because they want to be top dog.  This isn’t true for all men, and this doesn’t negate that they work really hard and make sacrifices to get there.  It is that drive to “be their own boss” that makes men want to elevate their position or even start their own company.   Even in the church there is usually a progression:  Youth Pastor => Associate Pastor => Head Pastor.  In ministry it is common for a man to work his way up too, he may start out as an usher and then become head usher.  This forward movement is normal for men.

Women, I contend, have a different motivation.  Most women are not looking to be in power or have ultimate authority, but instead they want to be trusted to get the job done.  Women will stay in the same role for years, even a lifetime, if they find the job fulfilling.  In ministry, you can see this displayed in Sunday School teachers or Women’s Ministry leaders who have happily been serving for decades.  For many years the predominant use of women in the church came down to very domesticated roles, like rocking babies in the nursery, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, decorating the church, secretarial, and acts of hospitality (coffee on Sunday mornings, or food for the sick).  Historically, that is a fairly accurate role… but as time passed and women became educated and entered the workforce, there was a shift.

Women have become innovators and inventors, they write software, perform surgeries, run multi-million dollar organizations and corporations.  They have become college professors with doctorates, leading experts in many fields, politicians, business owners, and entrepreneurs.  Women have contributed significantly to the world through art, music, and literature.  When they raise their hand to volunteer at church, they are looking for a way to use those talents and skills to help the church in it’s vision.  However it is pretty common to usher her toward the children’s ministry director or hospitality team.

After my first was born, I chose to become a stay at home mom.  In nearly seventeen years, and multiple churches as we moved, there has not been a single conversation regarding my professional background among church leaders.  Not one.  Yet many of those skills would benefit any church or organization I have worked with. 

Not a single one could tell you that I was the fasting rising, and youngest manager in my company.  Nor, that my numbers were the best in our region (and in some instances our state).  They wouldn’t know that I wrote training manuals on how to more efficiently execute certain positions in the company, and was moved to a training location to prepare future managers.  That I managed a staff off one hundred people, nearly a hundred thousand dollars per day in sales, and nearly half million dollars in inventory on any given day.  I have hired people, trained people, and fired people.  I have negotiated commissions, raises and contracts.  I have experience in marketing campaigns, organizational structuring, etc… etc.

I don’t list this as a source of pride, but simply a fact… a short resume of experience that goes continually untapped in multiple arenas.  I know that I am not the only one, I am not the only woman who has sat in the pews from week to week and knows deep down she could be doing more. I’ve talked to women who have approached their Pastors offering up their experience, only to be brushed aside. 

I spoke with a woman recently who lamented that her church hired a young barely experienced guy for a job that she had thirty years of experience in.  She would have VOLUNTEERED to do the job, but she had no clue her church was even hiring.  When I asked her if the church knew she had experience in that field, she said YES.  Apparently on numerous occasions she volunteered and every time was told her services were not needed.  She wasn’t even given a chance.

I know that feeling.  I’ve offered my services and been told “no thank you”, I have been mirco-managed too.  I also know what it is like to be in a leadership role with the total support and trust.  As I reflect upon those experiences I realized it really had nothing to do with being in authority, power, or being the top dog.  Knowing that those whom you are working or serving with TRUST you is the game changer.

If a woman in your church has experience running a multi-million dollar organization, her gifts are better utilized on a finance committee, building committee, or even on staff versus putting out coffee and donuts each Sunday.  The woman in your church who has been a hiring manager is a great person to include on your Pastor/Staff search committees, creating clear cut job descriptions, and listing your job postings.  A woman in your church who has a background in hospitality is a great person to consult when the church wants to throw a large event to ensure nothing is overlooked.  My great aunt was an accountant for a major corporation, and served as the treasurer of her church for decades. 

It would be irresponsible to not consider that some of these women who left a given field may NOT want to do the same job in the church.  Or, they may be happy to be consulted with for major projects but have no interested in full time commitment to a particular role.  This is especially true for our retirees who are using this time to travel and spend time with their growing families.  However, even some of our retirees are happy to share their experience and knowledge, so we can’t discount them either.  In as much, you may find the corporate CEO who never had a family of her own is happy to rock babies every chance she can get.  We shouldn’t assume the best place for women to serve in the church.  Instead we should be proactively placing them based on their experience, spiritual gifts tests, and speaking to them in regards to their area of interests. 

Women in church leadership want the staff members to trust that they are capable to do the job and to allow them to lead, not without accountability of course… but with support.   Women want the church leaders (and this includes women’s ministry leaders, and other subministry leaders) to talk to them about their professional or educational background.  Then work together as a team to find where you are best suited to serve.  I recently read that there is growth in the number of women who are leaving the church, and I can’t help but think this may be the reason why.

Generally speaking, when you give a person a job or a role within a church that uses their gifts and talents… they become invested.  They will remain part of the body long term.  However, when a person feels overlooked, unappreciated, or undervalued they tend to leave and find a place where they are.  If we want to slow down or even stop the departure of women from the church, we need to be proactive in connecting them to the church in a meaningful way.

#Write31Days – Post 7 – Dishonorable Agreement

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Have you ever found yourself arguing with your husband about something, and you feel like you are just going around in circles?  Or, perhaps, you feel like your opinions and feelings on the subject are being sucked to the bottom like a whirlpool in the ocean?  Have you spent years battling over the same subject, that now you don’t even bother to bring it up?  You may have even moved into the position of:  “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

I totally get it.  I really, truthfully do.  On certain subjects my husband and I could not have opinions that are further apart.  In fact, depending on the actual subject at hand, either one of us can be a dominating force.  It has taken us YEARS to find that place of compromise, or at least to feel as if we are both being heard.

I am also the type of person who will want to continue to hash out the discussion until I totally understand his decision.  If it doesn’t make sense to me, a simple “I said no” isn’t going to fly.  It’s not even that I am challenging his decision, but more that I want to understand the WHY behind it.  In some instances I am also looking to grasp the permanence of his decision.  It this a “no, forever” or a “no, not right now” response?

Recently, in a discussion group, a woman posed the question:

“How do I honor my husband when I don’t agree with him?”

You can honor your husband, and still disagree with him.  The honor lies in HOW you disagree with him.    Just as you can dishonor your husband when you agree with his decision, because HOW you are in agreement make a difference.

  • Don’t mumble under your breath, that’s dishonorable.
  • Ask if there is any room for compromise, that’s honorable.
  • Don’t give him the silent treatment, that’s dishonorable.
  • Ask if you can revisit the topic in a few months, that’s honorable.
  • Don’t withhold affection from him, that’s dishonorable.
  • Try to see his perspective and understand his reasoning, that’s honorable.
  • Don’t assume you know what he is thinking, that’s dishonorable.
  • Ask for an explanation, and have a willingness to accept it, that’s honorable.

When we can be honorable toward our husband, even when we disagree, we are keeping the lines of communication open.

You want to buy a new potting bench for the patio, so you ask your husband.  He says no.  You ask why, and he responds that there isn’t room in the budget which is already being stretched tight.  Instead of pouting, you can ask questions like…

Can we afford a used one?  If so, what is my maximum budget?  —  Could we build one for less?  Would you help me? — If I sold off a few of my own things, would you be ok with me spending that money to buy it?  — Can we discuss it again after we get our tax return?

By asking these questions you are actually honoring your husband, despite disagreeing or being unhappy with his decision.   You are attempting to understand the situation a bit more, looking for compromise, and with a better attitude.

However, if you walk away from the discussion angry… pouting around the house, giving him the silent treatment for days or weeks, withholding affection until you get your way, calling up a friend or family member and berating your spouse, disrespecting him in front of the kids by blaming him for why they can’t have/do something, etc… you are not honoring your husband in the least.

This is not to say that we can’t be disappointed, not at all.  It’s ok to be disappointed or sad about his decision; it is not ok to punish him for it or to carry anger and bitterness towards him over it.  It’s not ok to manipulate him into getting your own way, or call others onto your team to pressure him to fold.

We also need to be aware of the bigger picture, to have a full understanding of his decisions or opinions.  He may have information you don’t, the timing of the conversation may be wrong, he could have simply had a bad day, or any number of other factors.

Look for solutions, look for compromise, or look to God to help you be content with the decision you don’t agree with.

Honorable Disagreement.  Dishonorable Agreement.

It’s your decision, your choice on how you respond.

On the big things… the life impacting decisions… I hold firm that if God wants us to move in that direction both spouses will share that same conviction, calling, or direction.  If there is disagreement, it is because the “call” is something one of you is feeling in the flesh, or it just isn’t time to take that step yet.

If you are having a hard time being honorable in disagreement, start in prayer.  Take a step back, and pray over it.  When you have tempered yourself, have a discussion to understand his perspective.  Then, before you respond, take some time to think his response through.  Do some research, come up with an alternative solution, develop a plan of action, and then make some time to talk about it again.

#Write31Days – Post 4 – The Big Picture

soapboxIf someone were to come to my home right now and look in the snack basket on top of my fridge, they would be shocked.  There are approximately thirty packages of chocolate pudding.  They would wonder why I would let my kids have that instead of healthier options.  How irresponsible of me as a parent, right?  I should be teaching my children better eating habits.

However, they would be wrong.   What they don’t know is the whole truth, they didn’t see the big picture.  The truth is that I put in thirty packs of pudding and thirty packs of fruit cups packed in water, not syrup.  My kids have been choosing the fruit over the pudding.

I would be judged on what someone thought I was giving them, not realizing that they were actually seeing the option my children rejected.  This is what happens when we assume based on what we see, without having more information… without the bigger picture.

We can apply this same idea to the scriptures when we are not looking at them as a whole.  The truth is that the scriptures are filled with harsh truths and loving compassion.  We are judged by what others see, not what they don’t.

If all we throw at the world is judgment, condemnation, and “tough love”, that is what the world sees.  We give them rules to adhere by, a long list of do and don’t commands, and set an expectation of my way or the highway.  Then, the world sees God as a looming ogre, unable to be satisfied, angry, wrathful, unmerciful.  No wonder, they wouldn’t have anything to do with Him.

If all we throw out into the world is Gods’ love, mercy and compassion, that is what the world sees.  They see a God that lets people get away with sin, because He loves them so much.  They will see no need to change who they are, to no longer conform to the world because God’s love is easily given.  No wonder we see people filling our pews, but no sign of change in them… nor taking God seriously.  This is where we are judged as hypocrites because we call our selves Christians, but we don’t act like it.  There is no evidence of it.

God is not fully represented to the world if we are only giving them half the picture.  We can’t only show a harsh and demanding God, just as much as we can not only show a gentle and loving God.  Neither of these views encompass God as a whole.  They do not reflect the overarching story of the scriptures.  They eliminate parts of God’s character.  We have to share the full measure of God in order to have a real affect on people’s lives.  We need to know that God loves at the same time as being called into obedience.

We need the healthy doses of scripture that help us make better decisions, avoid temptations, and long for holiness in our lives… just as much as we need the sweet encouragement of a loving and forgiving God.

If we are only representing a portion of the scripture, we are being irresponsible with The Word and with our witness to others.  We are living half of the life God calls us to live, believing half of the Truth we’ve been entrusted with.  We are also giving to others a half truth, half story, that doesn’t fully reflect our wonderful and marvelous God.

Ministering to Women, A Changing Face.

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I’ve been doing a lot of research lately about the roles of Women in Ministry.  Just these past few days I was really trying to look at women as a whole, who is it that we are ministering to?  As I google searched, and google searched some more… and went through the most recent women’s ministry books and resources…. we have a lot of work ahead of us.

  • Working women, working moms.
  • Stay at home moms, and housewives.
  • Grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren.
  • Mothers with adult children who have returned home.
  • Single moms, single working moms.
  • Mothers of children with disabilities.
  • Women who are widowed, or are married to a man with a terminal illness.
  • Women who are divorced.
  • Women who are stepmothers in blended families.
  • Women who adopted children.
  • Women who are lifelong single.
  • Women who have children.
  • Women who are infertile or have had miscarriages.
  • Women who have lost children or have a child with a terminal illness.
  • Women who have been abused:  physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and sexually.
  • Women who are disabled.
  • Women who struggle with addiction:  pornography, substances, and more.
  • Women who come from broken homes, women who were abandoned.
  • Women who are homeless.
  • Women who are struggling with their sexuality and gender identification.
  • Women who are struggling in their marriages.
  • Women who are married to non-believers.
  • Women who are struggling financially.
  • Women who are struggling spiritually.
  • Women who are suffering from depression and debilitating anxiety, who consider suicide.
  • Women who suffer from PTSD, from experiences in their life or serving for their country.
  • Women who are retired.
  • Women who are empty-nesters.
  • Women who are in, or previously were in prison.
  • Women who had abortions.
  • Women with serious or even terminal illness.
  • Women who suffer from eating disorders and body dysmorphia.
  • Women who are struggling, burdened, worn out by life.
  • Women who have faced racism, ageism, sexism in their lives.
  • Women who feel that they have no value, no importance, and are invisible.
  • Women who have been exploited in the sex trade industry, by decision or force.
  • Women who are young, trying to navigate the waters of adulthood and their future.
  • Women who are older, trying to move beyond the failures of their past.
  • Women who are mothers of prodigal children.
  • Women in the mission field.
  • Women on the battlefield.

If you, or your church, is wondering if a Women’s Ministry is needed…. I hope that list answers the question for you.

It’s a resounding YES.

We also need something new, because our needs changed…. our ministries haven’t.  We need women who are not just willing to lead fellowship events and bible studies, we need something new.  We need women who are equipped to Minister To Women.

The face of women in our church is changing, it’s time Women’s Ministry catches up.

WHY SO ANGRY?

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Getting on my soap box, again.  But, sometimes, you just have to flesh out those thoughts in your head.  Getting them out, before you lose them.

This morning, I caught my youngest in a lie.  I knew she was lying, but I didn’t know how to prove it. I resorted to my tried and true tactics, but she wasn’t budging. “Not me”, was in the house.  Finally, I had to put it to her plainly.

“I know you a lying.  I know you did it.  I just can’t prove it.  So, until you confess….. ” and thus came my most brilliant of ideas.  And about 30 seconds later, full confession.

I issued the consequence, explaining (as I have done with every one of my kids)…. “If you would have told me the truth, I would only have grounded you for one day.  But, because you lied to me repeatedly, you are grounded for four days.”

And so the ensuing temper tantrum would begin.  Huffing and puffing around the house.  Not slamming things, but surely setting the down and closing drawers harder than one should.

I turned her to face me and said “Why are you angry with me?  I didn’t lie to you.  I gave you multiple chances to tell me the truth.  You chose not to.  It’s ok to be mad.  But, who should you really be mad at?”

She looked at me, like a doe caught in headlights, speechless.  I continued:  “The only person you should be mad with, is yourself.  You broke the rules in the first place. Then lied to cover your tracks.  You are mad at me because you got caught.  You should be mad at yourself for breaking the rules in the first place.”

She paused.  Her attitude improved.

Then, as I drove her to school… the woman behind me began a tantrum when I stopped for the school bus, instead of trying to whip through as the stop sign was being slowly extended.   Even if I had gone, there is no way she would have gotten through…without breaking the law.  But there she was, in my rear view mirror, waving her arms and smacking her steering wheel, gesturing toward the bus.  The bus retracted it’s sign, and I started to drive.  The road is a 40mph zone, I was averaging about 43-45mph…all the while she was close enough that if I popped my hatch back it would hit her car.  She followed closely like this, the entire length of my drive, gestures flying, Lord knows what she was saying.  She was ANGRY.

Why?  Why so angry with me?  I was following the law when I stopped.  I was actually going a little above the speed limit.  I wasn’t going below.

From my own experience of frustrations when driving, I can take a pretty good guess as to why she was so upset.  She was probably running late.

But was that my fault?  Or the bus driver’s fault?  Or any other driver she encounters fault?  No.  Yet she was spewing her venom towards me.  If I am right, and she was late, then really who’s fault was it?  Her own.  Something happened that morning that prevented her from leaving early enough.  Did she over sleep?  Get distracted?  Was she unprepared to walk out the door?  Couldn’t find her paperwork, keys or sunglasses?  It could be any number of reasons, but ultimately the fault lies with her.

If you think about all of those times you have gotten angry & even allowed your anger to spill out on others, how often was the situation actually THEIR fault?

My guess is probably fewer than we’d care to admit.

I was late, not because of the cars on the road, but because I misplaced my keys.

I didn’t turn in my assignment on time, not because the teacher didn’t give us enough time to finish, but because I wasn’t organized.

I wasn’t able to get my work done today, not because there was too much to do, but because I was distracted by personal phone calls.

My water got turned off, not because they are horrible people, but because I didn’t pay my bill on time.

My car was repossessed, not because the dealership is full of jerks who just want my money, but because I wasn’t budgeting.

My kids were late to school, not because they dragged their feet, but because I didn’t want to get out of bed until I HAD to.

I ended up in jail, not because the judge was unfair, but because I committed the crime & deserved the consequences.

I have to pay this speeding ticket, not because the cop is meeting a quota, but because I broke the law.

So many things that make us angry, when we look down deep… are really rooted in our decisions.

There are so many self help books, groups and movements about dealing with your anger.  But, how many of them actually address WHY we are angry in the first place?  Taking some personal responsibility for the choices we made, verses projecting our anger toward others will help us to diffuse that anger.

It is easier to be angry at someone else, and blame them for everything.   It is harder to look at yourself in the mirror and say “this is your doing, how are you going to fix it?”

Ecclesiastes 7:9

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.