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Delayed Anger
Photo: Dawn Allynn
My brother and I caused my mother a lot of grief while we were growing up. Our parents loved us, but when our mother became upset, she would lose her temper and yell at us in a high-pitched voice.

Eventually my brother and I grew up, married, and had families of our own. My family visited our parents two or three times a year, and my mother was always patient and understanding. She never lost her temper or yelled at me anymore.

Then during one of our visits, when I bathed my two little daughters, quite a bit of water splashed on the floor. I dried the girls, dressed them for bed, and sent them out of the bathroom so I could clean up. Just as I was wiping up the floor with one of the towels I had used to dry the girls, my mom came into the bathroom and immediately lost her self-control.

“What are you doing?” she yelled. “You don’t use my towels for wiping the floor! That’s what the mop is for!”

I looked up at her in shocked surprise. She marched out, returned with a mop, and shooed me out of her way while she did things the right way.

Later she came to me with a sheepish look on her face. In a controlled, reflective tone she apologized. “I’m sorry. I thought I had gained the victory over my temper and yelling at you kids. But I learned something about myself tonight. I didn’t really gain the victory. When you kids left, the irritant just went away. Because there was no one around to upset me, I had no one to lose  my temper with or to yell at, so I thought I had gained the victory.”

That was a good lesson for me, too. The Bible warns us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Because of my sinful nature, I’ll always have to be on guard, or the devil will catch me when I least expect it. My prayer needs to continually be, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit with me”(Psalms 51:10).

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By Sanita Booth. Reprinted with persmission from Signs of the Times, October 2006. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the New International Version ®.

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