This morning my 15-year old pulled the blankets over her head, moaned loudly that she was way too tired to go to school and barked something rude when I replied that tired isn’t a valid reason to miss class.
After 10 minutes of cajoling, encouraging and pointing out that she’d be late, I left the room, suspecting that engaging in a power struggle at 6 a.m. was more likely to escalate the emotion than resolve the problem. Besides, arguments that take place before my coffee kicks in are a bad idea when I’m striving to abide by Ephesians 4:26:
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, (NIV)
I retreated to the living room, where I nursed my hot coffee and let off a bit of my own steam. I distinctly disliked what my daughter’s refusal to get out of bed said about her sense of responsibility, or possibly about the efficacy of my parenting.
I wallowed in that mess for a few minutes before I took a deep breath and reminded myself that although I might not be able to prevent my teen from making poor choices, I still had a choice of my own. I could play the angry loop in my head repeatedly, or I could recognize that when someone else gets me fired me up, it’s time to stop, drop what I’m thinking and roll in a different direction.
I wrenched my thoughts away from outrage, choosing to pray for my daughter, instead. When I have to hammer out a prayer despite intense feelings, the Lord’s Prayer is often just the ticket. I said it on my daughter’s behalf several times. Then I said it a few more.
Gradually my inner smoke cleared. The path forward became easier to see. Sometimes “In your anger, do not sin” means, “In your anger, pray for the one who angered you.” For when we pray for those who offend us, we are less likely to sin against them.