By Monica Sharman
“Wednesday is the only night we can come,” Jodie said. (That was God’s timing, I later realized.)
“Great!” I put it on the calendar and put my mind to the dinner plans: an odd combination of Colombian lentils, lo mein, and homemade mint-Oreo ice cream for dessert. I considered making lumpia, too, but since Wednesday was the next day, that would have been hard to pull off.
On that very Wednesday morning, someone close to me hurt me. I felt back-stabbed, passive-aggressive-manipulated, and disrespected. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt such rage. Starting about nine in the morning and continuing all day, I nourished and fed this anger with returning thoughts until it intensified into a wrath that made my hands shake a little and the back of my throat tighten. I fed that puppy so well it grew into a snarling Rottweiler on steroids, drool-dripping fangs and all.
I taught home school, thought more on how I was treated, and was angry. I returned library books and was angry. I did a Walmart run and was angry. I cut carrots into matchsticks for the stir-fry and was angry.
Then, thank God, six o’clock and the Hartfields arrived. I heard one of my sons call out, “The Hartfields are here!” They opened the door for Andy, Jodie, Drew, Alexis, Micah, and Leah.
I started to calm down because of their presence—or the presence of Christ in them. My hands were no longer shaking. My throat was not tight.
After dinner the children built elaborate wood-block structures and caused them to fall with “earthquakes” (six pairs of little fists pounding on the carpet) and “floods” (the giant blue-denim bean bag rolling over). Some of us talked at the table.
Deprived of my thoughts, anger lost its best food. It shriveled into a pathetic, emaciated thing because I put it in famine conditions; I starved the anger by turning my thoughts, instead, to the family in my home.
I contemplated: sitting right here at my dinner table are people surrendering their lives to God’s will and guidance. In their future is a home in Tanzania where the village has no well, so they’ll have to live on collected rainwater. Their lives won’t include the Pikes Peak Library District, Walmart runs, or a 2,000-square-foot house with a basement to store the extra Legos. And they step into this life with joy and excitement.
But now, the dinner is over, and our guests have gone home. Will I let my thoughts return to anger?
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:14 ESV)
Have any of us felt the birth of these baby-devils [wrath, strife, envy] within us? Let us make no provision for them. If the ugly thing has just shown its head, let us kill it by starvation. And how shall we do it? …
Set your mind on things above,” and the things below, the enemy that comes from beneath will find no provision in our lives. He will find his cupboard empty, and he will sink away to faint and die.
Father, help me. How do you want me to respond to the hurt I feel and the anger I have fed? Please, Lord, take captive my thoughts, and help me.
Explain a time when you have been in Monica’s shoes.
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