Live Better

16 Jan


Some days you have to look in the mirror and confront the realities looking back at you. Today is one of those days for me.

My family and closest friends know that I can have a pretty volatile temper. At this point it takes a lot for me to get angry. It usually builds up over time. When I get to the point of anger there is a long story playing in my head that I feel justifies the completeness with which I am going to go off. When I was younger my explosions would come immediately after anything or anyone made me cry. Being the youngest though my outbursts didn’t always get the reaction I needed. I was smaller, slower, weaker than everyone else. I also grew up in a household where you couldn’t say or do anything you pleased so a lot of things had to be played out in my mind rather than in reality. As I got older I moved into not letting people see me cry, so the explosions would seem irrational when directed at someone who didn’t know me. They would say something as simple as “Hello” and I would go completely off. What they didn’t know is that I was reacting to the sound of the voice I had attached to numerous painful and harmful memories. I was reacting to a list of perceived wrongs. Then e’Marcus Harper entered my life. One day he challenged a group of us to address the fact that we had so many buttons that people could push. He asked us to shift from focusing on our anger and frustration with the people pushing our buttons.  It was then that I really started embracing that the problem may not be all of these various and sundry people. I was my biggest problem. It was a turning point for me. e’Marcus went further. He challenged me to find ways to demonstrate love…to be a living example of Christ’s love…in my interaction with everyone. Well it’s been more than 10 years since e’Marcus said that and I’m still working on it.

At this point in my life I have very few buttons. The ones that I have are interconnected. It basically boils down to these: Please note that these are all based on how I perceive someone else’s actions and intentions. 

  • I do not like to be hurt, played, used, or hustled.
  • I do not like to see the people I love being hurt, played, used, or hustled.
  • I really do not like being used in anyone’s efforts to hurt, play, use, or hustle someone else.
  • I get beyond angry when someone is attempting to use me in their efforts to hurt, play, use, or hustle someone I love.

Recently I found myself going though all 4 things in the matter of a few moments. I tried to just sit with it. I also tried to let it go. None of that worked. I ended up typing a vitriolic response to a message posted in a private chat group. One problem is that NO ONE who received my response had ANY idea that I was responding to buttons 1-4 having been pushed. Another problem is that my response did not exemplify the way I want to live my life.

Last night, I thought about my response to the group and felt bad about what I had said. I re-read the response this morning and felt ashamed. There was no love in my response…NONE. I knew I had to apologize. I had missed my opportunity to explain myself, but there was time and space for an apology. I sent the apology today and it was accepted. I am grateful for that.

Now I must face the choices and consequences part. The person who I wanted to protect was the one that I hurt with my response. If my role was that of a bodyguard, it’s a though I brutally attacked the person I was supposed to be protecting, Our relationship may not fully recover. That is a consequence of my choices. I demonstrated a complete lack of love…in any form. That memory will linger with everyone who read my response. That is a consequence of my choices. I decided that re-framing my anger as passion made it OK to say whatever I wanted to say. I went against the old adage to “stay sweet so your testimony won’t spoil.” Choices and Consequences.

I hope this is the last time I have to learn the following lessons. If it isn’t the last time, I hope the next time is at least less painful:

  • It is better to deal with the fundamental issue rather than the symptom.
  • I must still slow down and heavily examine the possible impact of my actions before I say and do things.
  • Whenever my reaction calls for me to say to God that it would be best if you plug your ears and cover your eyes for a few minutes, it’s better that I simply sit quietly and do nothing.

I wish I could tie this up nicely and stick a big pretty bow on it,, but this is not that kind of post. This is a post that ends like this. I’ve taken a look at my buttons, choices, and consequences. I’ve learned some lessons. Now it’s time to stop writing and start living better. I hope you are inspired to take a hard look at some aspect of your life or way of being.  Let’s Live Better!

For Christ’s Love Compels Us… 2 Corinthians 5:14

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