I know that our behaviour can be self regulated. When we are upset sometimes it helps to have a good friend to pick us up, but in the end, we get to choose how we will act in our circumstances.
Probable everyone has over-reacted. Most people have been “out of control” at one time or another either in anger or in frustration. At one time I believed that it was impossible to change this tendency. Having seen the anger lose it’s hold on me and knowing the peace that rules over me most of the time (nobody’s perfect), I now know that our behaviour can change.
When a person is deeply hurt it often is expressed in anger. That anger will grow into a storm of bad behaviours if gone unchecked. Sometimes only love can calm the storm.
The Night Before the Wedding
One dramatic example of this happened a few years ago. (Names and details have been changed) Mary’s daughter was getting married. Mary herself was separated from her husband and her husband was in another relationship and she was heartbroken. Furthermore, she was homeless at the time of the wedding, with very little income and was doing everything she could to put a wedding together. Her husband had moved his lover into their home the week of the wedding. It couldn’t get any worse as far as she was concerned.
The night before the wedding, her whole family gathered at her former home with her husband and his lover. She wasn’t invited and her heart hurt deeply. She became angry. When the phone rang, she snapped out a brisk hello.
“Hey, honey,” her friend said. “How are you doing?”
“How do you think I’m doing?” Mary cried. “My daughter is getting married tomorrow. This should be a family event and I’ve done all the work and this is how I get rewarded…” On and on she went, spilling out her bitter disappointment and hurt over the past two to three years about how she felt abandoned etc., etc.
Her friend listened quietly without interruption allowing Mary to wind down. Mary poured out her heart until she was spent. Then her friend quietly spoke to her.
“Mary, may I say something to you as your friend?” she asked. Then she waited for a response.
Mary warily replied, “Yes.”
“Honey, you know I love you and I say this with your best in mind.”
Mary bristled. “Okay, keep going,” she said.
“I need to tell you to go and get your big girl panties on and take off those little girl panties.” Mary’s friend told her.
Mary had never heard that figure of speech before and stared at her wall in silence while she tried to think what that could mean.
“This wedding is not about you or your ex-husband, it’s about your daughter and it’s her wedding day tomorrow. You have to be the most mature person at that wedding tomorrow and you have to make it a wonderful experience for them. Can you do that?”
“I, I think I can,” Mary stammered.
“Then my job is done here, honey” her friend replied. “I’ll be praying for you and your family tomorrow.” Then she bid her friend adieu.
Mary’s anger ground to a halt. She was stunned. She sorted through the short conversation and considered the message. She had a decision to make. It was made as she imagined her daughter walking down the aisle on her father’s arm the next day. Yes, her ex-husband was a part of the wedding but it was her daughter she focused on. Her daughter was looking at her in her vision of the morrow. She was searching with hope that her mother would be happy for her and that she would be celebrating the most important day of her life with her. It made all the difference in the world. Mary got busy and finished the last-minute details quickly. She had a big day ahead.
The Day of the Wedding
I got to attend that wedding the next day. It began with a bit of tension, but it ended very well. Mary used the rest of her evening the night before the wedding crafting a fun skit for the young couple, describing how they met and fell in love. She enlisted the couple’s siblings and engaged the whole crowd in her skit and it ended with everyone participating, laughing and applauding.
Mary was able, with the help of a friend, to change her whole outlook and rose above her circumstances. She was no longer a slave to her husband’s actions. Even her children were unaware of how difficult it had been for her as told to me by one of her sons. How different the wedding might have been if she hadn’t gotten that phone call or hadn’t accepted the words of a friend. Can you see God’s hand in all this?
This is a good example of the choices we get to make when we are in distress or we are in deep pain. God will send us help and give us creative solutions at times of trouble. It is tragic that more people don’t accept the help so readily available to us.
My prayer for you is that you will seek the help you need, and that you will keep on seeking it until you find it. It is also my hope that when you are presented an opportunity to receive help that you will be humble enough to receive it. Then the peace of Christ that passes all understanding will guard your heart and your mind and you will be more open to God’s solutions. Conquering our difficult circumstances is one of those things God does very well.