For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.       ~ Proverbs 30:33

Today was a special day, one we’ve been looking forward to with great excitement.  Our son graduated from 8th Grade!   The graduation ceremony was 9:00 a.m. this morning.  We dropped our son off at the school, then hurried out to the grassy area where the ceremony would be held.   Parents had been instructed to bring their own chairs.  We arrived in time to set our chairs just a few rows back from where the students would be seated and the ceremony would take place. 

My husband and I were excited, as were all the other parents who were mingling and chatting with those around them.  We happened to notice our neighbors from across the street were in front of us.  We had just mentioned them to another couple whose sons would attend the same high school as our son.  I’d mentioned the neighbors because their daughter would also attend this high school.  I’d told our friends the neighbors were a nice family. 

Just moments later it was time for the ceremony to commence.  We were asked to take our seats.  Everyone quickly did so.  Everyone, that is, except for our ‘nice’ neighbors who proceeded to stand.  Our friend kindly approached the father who very rudely said, “You shouldn’t have put your seats behind those of us who want to stand!”  They were STANDING in the SEATED area!   Many other people were standing, but they were considerate enough to do so in the aisles and outer perimeters so they didn’t block the view of others.  Not my ‘nice’ neighbors!  They stood through the entire ceremony, blocking the view of many behind them.  We were able to scoot our chairs just a little bit to one side (there wasn’t much space – hundreds of people were seated all around us).  Doing so allowed us to see most of the podium, but the family who stood – a group of at least 6 people – blocked us from seeing any of the students – including our own son.  We spent the hour looking at the back sides of that family.  I can still describe what each of them was wearing.

In order for me to get photos of my son, I had to make my way through the seated crowd to walk to an outer area where I had to take photos from a farther distance than our seats would have been.  And believe it or not… while I stood waiting for my son’s name to be called, a woman who had to be 6 feet tall stepped right in front of me blocking my view again!!!  I carefully moved in front of her, crouching down, determined NOT be inconvenienced anymore!!  She then realized what she had done and moved away.   Part of me had to chuckle at the cruel irony of that. 

I was mad all day because of the rude and arrogant actions of my neighbor.  He RUINED the ceremony for us!  This was a once-in-a-lifetime occasion that we cannot do again, and this man ruined it for us!   Part of me hoped he wouldn’t say anything to us after the ceremony because I didn’t want to say or do anything that I’d regret.  The other half of me hoped he WOULD say something so that I could call him out on his obnoxious behavior.    In fact, all day I kept looking outside hoping to see him so I could go out and speak to him about what he’d done. 

I also spent the day wondering what’s appropriate to do in situations like this.  Am I entitled to be angry?  Or do I need to do what the Bible says and turn the other cheek?  As a Christian, is it ok to be mad?  How should an angry Christian respond?  I didn’t like the answers I was feeling for those questions.  They required me to be nicer and more passive than I wanted to be.  I changed my questions and took the Christian part out.  That’s cheating, I know.  I’m just keeping it real and honest.

My mother and our close friend advised me that it’s not worth it to pursue this further. Our friend felt that if this man could be that rude, then nothing I say will make a difference with him anyway.   After speaking with them and receiving their advice to let things go I was no longer angry, but I do still feel the need to calmly and matter-of-factly tell this man how his actions affected others. 

So what’s a Christian to do in times like this?  Notice I didn’t say ‘good’ Christian?  I’m not feeling like a ‘good’ Christian after some of the thoughts I had today!  I AM still a Christian, though.  I can’t take that out of the equation – although it would make things a lot easier! (It would proably make things messier, too.)   So here are the answers to my own questions:

1)  I need to pray about these things and allow God to rule my heart and mind.  I’ve been allowing ME to rule my heart and mind.  That’s not good.   God will indicate whether or not I’m to confront this man with his actions, or if I’m to let things go and trust the justice matters to the Lord. 

2) I need to pray for this man – truly pray for him, not have condescending or immature, selfish thoughts.  I need to pray for him just like I would others that I care about.   I need to ask for blessings for him and his family. The Bible tells us to do this somewhere in the New Testament, but at this moment I don’t recall where. 

3) I will also follow the advice of a dear friend from church who is older and wiser.  When she’s having negative feelings for someone else, she reads the “Love is…” verses from Corinthians and inserts the persons name.  As she does, she’s mindful of what ‘jumps out at her’ as she reads, knowing those are the ways she’s to show kindness to the other person.  

4) This brings me to the final stage of my anger management and recovery.  I’m to show KINDNESS to this man – not wrath, anger, or resentment.  

Here are things the Bible says:  Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to lustful desires…Instead, give yourself completely to God…Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin.  Instead, you are free by God’s grace.   ~ Romans 6:12

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.   ~ Proverbs 15:1

If you have thoughts about any of this, I’d love to hear from you.  What do you do when you’re mad?  What do you wish you’d do?  What would you advise me to do? 

Dear God, Please forgive me for the negative and ungodly thoughts I’ve been having today! I give thanks Mom and her friend who reasoned with me and helped me to finally overcome my angry feelings.  Please guide my thoughts and feelings so that I handle this in a way that is pleasing to You.  I’m claiming Romans 8:28 in hopes that You can even make good come from all of this.  Mostly I give praise for my son and his accomplishments.  Celebrating his growth and accomplishments are much more important than dwelling on the rude behavior of others.  I thank You that our son is  healthy, happy, and a good kid who gives us many reasons to be proud and give praise.  Please continue to be with us as he moves on to new challenges and experiences to help us be the best parents we can, knowing what we want most is to help him reach his full potential according to who YOU created him to be.  Of course we offer the same prayers and praises on behalf of our younger son, too, a child who charms and delights us every single day, and who also gives us many reasons for which to be proud and give praise.  Humbly I lift all these things up to You, my Heavenly Father, with Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and in the love of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

To end on a positive note:  The graduation ceremony was very good.  Students were asked to be the speakers and they were excellent!   We were very proud of our son and his accomplishments.  Now it’s on to High School!   YIKES!!!!!