Tuesday, 01 July 2008
Have you ever totally flopped on a resolution almost immediately after you made it? Yesterday morning, I woke up fully resolved and empowered to stand up for myself and be more assertive during conflicts. For awhile now, God's been making it clear (even through dreams) that I really should step up my game and work with the challenges he throws my way instead of running away from them or clamming up. If there's one thing I really regret, it's that I haven't said "No," "I disagree," "I don't want to," and "I don't like what you're doing" often enough, if at all, really. Thankfully, I haven't had to deal with this at the office, but my tense apartment situation is pushing me closer and closer to the edge.
After getting back from my internship last night, I chowed down on some takeout dumplings and left my fork in the otherwise empty sink. My mom unexpectedly called me long-distance from the Philippines, so of course I forgot about it. During mid-conversation, my roommate returned from work....and five minutes later, she came by and interrupted my phone call to tell me about the fork.
I couldn't believe it. Four days earlier, she'd attempted to set a time slot for when I could shower, and now, she's cutting in while I'm talking to my mom (who I haven't seen in 6 months, and whose voice I hear for maybe 15 minutes every other month) to bug me about a UTENSIL? I'd understand if I'd left a wok and a stack of bowls in there for 3 days, but that fork had been in the sink for two hours, tops. Plus, it's just plain rude to interrupt someone who's on the phone for something so petty.
So guess what I did. While still on the phone, I went to the sink and washed the fork.
What bothers me is that I didn't quite consciously do it - it was one of those, "Lala, I'm on the phone but I'm playing with my jacket button at the same time" moments - except that I went ahead and submitted to my roommate's bidding. She hadn't even blatantly TOLD me to wash the fork. I *should* have continued my conversation and washed it when I was done; instead, I showed her that out of habit, I'll do things for her at my own inconvenience. I hope you agree that this isn't the same as throwing out the garbage or vacuuming without her telling me to do it.
I felt so angry at myself that once I hung up the phone, and she came by again to nag me about something else, I totally lashed out at her. Far from giving her the eloquent smackdown like I've always wanted to, I basically just raised my voice and sounded like a bratty teenager. Some would say that finally showing her my annoyance *could* be a step forward, but honestly, I don't want to draw my strength from human anger.
I'm not an angry person. I'm not even really a negative person - if anything, I'm neurotic, but using anger to combat that is only a means to an end. Yes, my tone of voice told her to get off my back, but I didn't feel any better afterward. The fact that I'm still mad now shows that I'm not angry at that isolated incident - I'm growing angry, period, and I'm letting it become a part of my character, the way that ambition, creativity, and perseverance are a part of who I'm growing into.
It then struck me that God's will is the only will I constantly and consciously resist. I should obey God's commands without Him even giving them to me directly. I should go out of my way to please Him without expecting some kind of reward. My servitude to God should become second nature the way my servitude to my roommate *CRINGE* is almost a part of my nature.
I this that this isn't really me, nor is it who God wants me to be. Firstly, before going to college, my friends' nickname for me was "Tough Cookie" (how far I've fallen!) Secondly, God doesn't want us to be wimps (see 2 Timothy 1:7). Nor does he want us to be mad all the time - how can we be consumed with both God and wrath when the Bible specifically says that He is slow to anger and abounding in love? (see Psalm 85:15). No, I'd let these things overwhelm me and I know that because of my improved relationship with God, I'm being attacked where I am weak.
I feel like God's telling me that he'll help me turn my doormat tendencies into obedience toward him and the strength from my anger into the true strength of God. While flipping through my Bible, I landed on this, which I don't remember reading before:
I said, "I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
as long as the wicked are in my presence."
But when I was silent and still,
not even saying anything good,
my anguish increased.
My heart grew hot within me,
and as I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:
"Show me, O LORD, my life's end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.
Save me from all my transgressions;
do not make me the scorn of fools."
- Psalm 39:1-4,8
We're instructed to tame our tongues, not to hold them in completely. My sister once told me, "Jesus died on the cross, but he also rebuked the Pharisees and destroyed the temple area."
Battles won by human anger function as worldly wealth...even if I do win some points on the scoreboard this summer, five years from now, am I even gonna care? Chances are, it'll be a really vague memory...but whatever character, whether good or bad, that I build from this conflict will be really hard to undo. Life's too short for anger.
Do you ever get discouraged about the personality/character traits you dislike? Has God ever turned something in your life or in your personality into something good?