Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Conquering Anger with Kindness and Goodness

We're a little long today, but what would you expect for Coffee Talk Thursday? :) So pour yourself a cup and let's get to talking!

It isn’t really that hard to be kind and good toward our children. Until you walk into the bathroom you just cleaned a few minutes ago and find your two-year old pouring Johnson’s baby wash all over the toilet lid cover, down the toilet, on the floor... (This becomes more sudsy as you wipe it to clean it up). Until you go to check on your boys outside and find them playing in the garage, unscrewing bulbs from your husband’s childhood Christmas lights and then throwing them on the ground (where of course they shatter). Until you find your two-year old has gotten your expensive lipstick out of your purse and is using it as a marker to write not on paper but on the floor.

When you discover these unforeseen foibles, it takes a Herculean effort to remain both kind and good. It takes such a Herculean effort, in fact, that it is nearly impossible in our human nature. “Difficult interactions or trying experiences are not the cause of our angry reactions; rather they serve to reveal the sin that was there all along.” (Feminine Appeal).

We elevate our own desire for something (a clean home, or a few minutes to ourselves, for example), and when something—or someone—interferes with the fulfillment of that desire, we become angry because we want the thing more than we want to be kind to the person. “The evil in our desires often lies not in what we want but that we want it too much” (a paraphrase of Calvin, quoted in Feminine Appeal).

That’s why, if we are going to respond without hasty anger, we must respond in the Spirit. In order to respond in the Spirit, we must be filled with the Spirit. Otherwise, we have no hope of overcoming our natural sinful response.

To be filled with the Spirit, we must take time to withdraw from the demands of the day to meet with the Lord (I do so much better when I spend this time early before everyone’s up…but if that can’t happen, may it still happen even amidst the activity of my day).

In reading through the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, I find it interesting that kindness and goodness are listed after peace and patience. It takes much patience to consistently respond to our children (or anyone for that matter) with kindness and goodness. Of course there are still times when we respond with discipline, but even that can be executed with kindness and goodness.

When we acknowledge our sin to God about our anger toward our children’s “creative works” and plead for His mercy to respond with kindness and goodness, He works in us for His good pleasure. I don’t understand how this all comes about, but I know it works. Only through the strengthening in my spirit that came through prayer was I able to take a deep breath and respond without yelling when I discovered the Johnson’s baby wash bathroom incident (and many others). Sure, I talked to my son about why that wasn’t a good idea and disciplined him, but I did it without an angry outburst.

In Feminine Appeal, author Carolyn Mahaney writes, “Please do not try to lift the ‘heavy objects’ of kindness and goodness on your own! You won’t be able to do it. But our heavenly Father has provided the Holy Spirit—the Helper—to assist us (John 14:26)…So let’s cease straining in our own power and turn to our Helper. Let’s ask Him for the strength and ability to demonstrate kindness and goodness. Our vigorous effort is still required, but it is only effective in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.”

Just as we train our children to not do the wrong things, we can train ourselves to not respond angrily and instead be kind and good. Remember, as we approach God's throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16), "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.” (Feminine Appeal).

With that, I think it’s time for a cup! Your turn to talk :)


  1. Wonderful advice, I need to put it into action!

  2. Good points. Loved the quotes, too.

    I have learned (and need to constantly remind myself) that kindness and goodness should not equal tolerance of disobedience but rather are the attitude IN the CORRECTION of disobedience.

    This quote in the book 'Everyday Talk' (why can't I underline in this comment box....), really hits it home for me.

    "Parents, when you give in to anger, resentment or self-pity at your children's bad behavior, you make yourself the center of the problem. You are loving yourself first and most. You must love your kids enough to show them the danger of their behavior. They need to see their first problem is with God, and only secondarily with you. You must be more concerned for them than for yourself and you must be concerned most of all for God. By modeling patience, love, self-control - and all the fruit of the Spirit - you teach your children how extraordinary God is."

    Blessings -- Jodi

    P.S. How timely was this post, indeed!

    Cheryl, you modeled kindness and goodness today in a situation that could have easily caused you much anger and frustration. An added benefit was others being able to witness your response --especially the young girl that hit your van. We know that there are no coincidences with God and let's pray that her heart was stirred by the Holy Spirit as the ladies modeled true Christianity to her. Now that's the TRUE ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE!

  3. Thanks Jodi :)
    What a highlight of the cookie exchange, hugh? But I think maybe the person who most needed to be there showed up, even though it was in a different way than we would think!
    Great quote. Sounds like another great book!
    Yes, I should have clarified that better in the post: that there will still be times we'll be rightfully angry over a situation, but our attitude in how we handle that anger and deal with the "tresspassers" makes all the difference--condemnation v. kindness still.

  4. Thanks for this post, it was just what I needed to read and take to heart.

  5. Thanks. I really appreciate this post. I struggle so much with yelling at my son after he's done something wrong or simply won't listen. But you reminded me what I've known all along; I have to bring it to Him in prayer. One thing you said too really resonated. The fact that my desire has become more important than the person when I lose my cool. I think that may help me look at situations a lot differently in the future. Thanks.