TEMPER TANTRUMS AT 20,000 FEET
The tiny occupant of seat 14D is throwing an all-out tantrum. Before the plane even started taxiing down the runway, the toddler began wailing at an ear-piercing pitch. This is not an “I’m hungry” cry, or an “I’m in pain” cry. It’s an “I’m angry and I’m going to scream until I get what I want” kind of cry. I have a feeling it’s going to be a long flight.
Briefly I contemplate what would happen if I decided to throw a tantrum in seat 22B. What if I suddenly started shrieking at the top of my lungs, kicking my feet, and pounding my fists on the seat in front of me? I can imagine they would call security and have me hustled off the plane in no time. But I have other ways of expressing my anger.
Two weeks ago I was speaking about anger at a meeting. Demonstrating on a large paper thermometer, I explained that anger is not just explosive rage – the top of the scale, but it can also be minor irritations and frustrations – what we consider the bottom of the scale.
“When was the last time YOU got angry?” one of the Bible school staff asked me during our discussion time in small groups.
An Inner Tantrum
“Well…” I hesitated.
“It was today, wasn’t it?” she prodded. “I could see it in your face. Right after lunch I saw you in the office and you looked so angry about something that I was afraid to talk to you!”
I was shocked. “It was that obvious?” A student had made a comment at lunch that I thought was disrespectful, but rather than say something about it, I just stewed inwardly. I allowed the irritation to grow into bitterness as I mulled over it – “How could she say that? How rude!”
The building anger was evident in my facial expression, in my tone of voice as I talked with co-workers, in my impatience at our staff meeting. Though I wasn’t screaming and yelling, I was throwing my own inner tantrum, not much different from that toddler on the plane. It was a result of wanting my own way, wanting the student to apologize and confess her disrespect.
Angry No Longer
So when my co-worker confronted me about it, I realized I needed to forgive the student for her insensitive comment. I asked God to remove the seed of anger and the desire to have my own way. And I prayed that He would show me if I should speak with the student directly about it or just let it go. As I released all the emotions and desires to God, I was filled with His peace. He is the judge, not me. I choose to submit to His will. Throwing a tantrum doesn’t accomplish anything!
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)