Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rejecting the Right to be Angry

When my husband arrives at the door after work, the entire house erupts in chaotic excitement. Little toddler tippy-toes dance full-speed ahead in an attempt to beat older siblings to the entrance in our kitchen. Sometimes the children run and hide, giggling in place as they wait for Dad to notice they are missing and being a game of hide-and-seek in an attempt to find them. Other times, there is a rush of energy as they hurry to finish a task, usually picking up their toys, so Dad will be proud of them for cleaning up. But always, there is commotion. Shouts of joy and exclamatory outbursts can be heard throughout our home: "Daddy's here! Daddy's here!"

Yesterday was no exception.

Little L. ran to the door, her chubby two-year-old legs working overtime to keep up with her outstretched arms. "Daddy!!" She was ready to leap into his arms before his keys had even turned the lock. The older two ran in behind her and quickly began chattering, less concerned about whether anyone was paying any attention and more interested in relieving the in-suppressible need to verbally release all the information that their little minds had been storing throughout the day, waiting patiently for an opportunity to tell Dad every detail he might have missed.

I stood there across the room and smiled. Our eyes met and he smiled back and said a simple, "Hi." Then untangling the children from his legs, he walked over to kiss me.

The children had more to say, so I walked back into the next room to resume folding laundry. Eventually, the kids dispersed to continue their own activities, which they had previously abandoned when they heard Dad's car door shut in the driveway, and I returned to the kitchen. He turned to face me and leaned his back against the counter. I stood near the stove.

"So," I asked, "How did it go."

He shrugged, smirked, then smiled and sighed. "It went good." His tone was not confident.

"What does that mean?" I pried for a more explicit answer.

He looked at me knowingly and began to explain. "You know, it's one of those things that you can either get mad about or look at it as an opportunity to learn something and grow from it."

My smile diminished and I could feel the warm tears welling. I knew I would not like whatever I was about to hear. He knew it too.

"I'm just choosing not to let it make me angry. I want to recognize my own part in it and I want to be better because of it. I want you to do the same."

I just looked at him. No reply. He knows me, I'm already angry and I don't even know why yet. His smile was understanding, compassionate and reassuring. "I need you to be forgiving, because if you get angry about it, it is just going to make me angry and I don't want that. I just needed to say that before I tell you anything else."

My heart sank as he went on to share with me the details of his meeting. What he learned that day would give anyone cause to feel angry. Yet he stood there, saddened, but gracious as he gently explained it all. Not once did his voice raise. Not once did he speak unkindly about anyone. He humbly accepted more responsibility than I know he needs to own. I knew he was devastated inside, but determined; he was angry about what had taken place, yet refused to become embittered by it, refused to dwell in that anger. Instead, his response to the whole situation, and especially to this information, has been perhaps one of the most beautiful things I have witnessed in his life during the fifteen years that I have known him.

While the children squealed and laughed in the other room, my heart was torn between the natural reaction to news like this and the one my husband had not only asked me to have, but was modeling for me. Every time I felt that heat of fury burning in my gut, I thought of him. He was the one who should be most enraged. He wasn't. He had every human right to be angry about this, but he chose not to. I realized what a brave and strong man I am married to.

To do right is certainly commendable. But to choose, even in the privacy of your own home, in the familiarity and safety of your own heart, to embrace what is right - that is truly strength of character. Anyone can modify their behavior publicly or say nice things in front of others. Integrity is doing right regardless of who sees or doesn't see, it is consistency of character. It takes strength to choose to reject the right to be angry and instead to respond with forgiveness towards those who have wronged us.

My husband is truly the very best man I know. He is wise. He is humble and teachable and forgiving. He is a living and honest example to me of love. And although, he is imperfect, as I look at the definition of love, he is all these things. I don't say that just to flatter him. I live life with him everyday and he really does live an example of love - not perfect love, but one of the best examples I have ever witnessed. I am so honored to know this man and to share life with him and to walk through disappointments with him. If not for his example, my heart would be a mess right now. But he is so confident in his determination to do what is right, that I cannot help but to want to follow his lead and let go of my right to be angry and to remember the abundant grace that our God has offered  each of us. I have been forgiven for so much, I must also forgive others.

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude. It is not selfish. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects. Love always trusts. Love always hopes. Love always perseveres. Love never fails. [1 Corinthians 13]

In what might have been one of the most devastating moments in our lives so far, there is peace and joy that overwhelm the discouragement and sadness; there is love, whose brilliance outshines the shadows of injustice and anger.

It is no wonder that our home explodes with excitement when Daddy arrives - even on days when he brings sad news along with him. He fills our home with hope and kindness, protection and love.

I am blessed.


  1. You guys are awesome, such a blessing and encouragement to those who know you. It is always easy to see the Lord working through you both and we miss having you guys sharpen us each week!

  2. Wow, you write so beautifully! The same thing happens in our home when daddy arrives. I love it! Children love unconditionally, they are filled with compassion, forgiveness, and humility.
    Perhaps that is why the Savior said in Matthew 18:1-4, "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
    Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

    Jesus Christ invites us to become like little children. To quickly forgive those who offend or do us wrong. It comes easier to children and we should emulate their example.

    Thanks for sharing this sweet experience and know that although it's hard at times to do what's right and sometimes you feel alone in your choices, you are never alone, the Lord is with you. His spirit rests upon you when you follow light and truth. He will guide you to know what to do as you seek him in prayer and study the scriptures... From experience, I know the complicated answers to life's problems are revealed in His words.


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