“My bad temper was rooted in selfishness”
I have always had a bad temper. I had almost accepted that it was just who I was.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a nasty temper. As a little girl, I would get angry, yell and scream, run to my room and slam my door when I did not get my way or when something was not done exactly as I wanted it done. Sometimes it made me feel like my blood was boiling inside of me. This carried on in my teens.
Will I always have a bad temper?
Whenever I lost my temper, I would immediately feel deep regret over how I had allowed myself to just react like that without thinking of the consequences and the effect on those around me. I hated it. It was a burden for me to be like that. It made me feel so guilty and sad because I could not control it.
A regular scenario where this would happen would be early in the morning. With three little active boys in our home, it is a rush to get everyone out the door. Most mornings would end up with me finally being in the car with the kids, realizing that I had become angry and lost my temper. Again.
I began to wonder if I just had to resign myself to the fact that I had a bad temper and that it was just who I was. I just didn’t know a way out.
A big realization
However, after one of these hectic mornings I suddenly came to a big realization. On this morning, I had 45 minutes to get everyone fed and dressed, pack lunches for school, and try to have breakfast myself. While I was rushing and begging for my children to get ready, I came to a point where I felt so discouraged that nothing was ever changing. I would always be this mom losing her temper. I felt completely powerless against my own reactions. I couldn’t understand why I could not just remain calm and speak nicely to my children even in the midst of chaos.
After dropping my children off at school, I still felt this dark mood circling within range, waiting for me to get angry again. It was then that I realized that I had never prayed to God about my temper. I pray for other things; I pray to Him to help me in my other situations but I had never asked Him for help with my biggest struggle. God was the only one who could help me. The realization hit me very hard. I was trying so hard into fight against my bad temper, to be a good mother and a good wife, but I never thought of asking God for help with something so simple.
I cried out to God in my car. I asked Him to show me my own anger and to help me put a guard in front of my mouth so I wouldn’t just react from my own feelings.
I brought up my Bible app on my phone after praying and God showed me Ephesians 4:31, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice,” and Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
I found so many verses where God tells us to put off anger – that he who is slow to anger is better than the mighty (Proverbs 16:32); that an angry man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention. (Proverbs 15:18.)
The root of the problem
I had to think about what caused me to lose my temper. And I concluded that it was all selfishness. This was difficult to admit, especially for a mother who felt that she was only trying to do what was best for her children. The reason why I was losing my temper was because situations were not going the way I wanted them to go – my children were not doing what I said they should, or things changed at the last minute, or someone offended me with their words. These were all self-centred reasons. I saw that I wanted to control my life instead of letting God have control. I also realized that every time I spoke harshly, or lost my temper, it was true what was written that anger “stirs up strife.” It made my children even more stubborn and it created unrest and chaos and fear in my home.
I am so thankful that God answered my prayer and showed me why I was losing my temper. My bad temper will not just disappear by itself now, but I have some weapons to fight with.
A new hope
I know God is on my side, and if I feel the anger rising up inside me, I close my eyes and pray to Him that He will help me now to put aside anger. He opens my eyes to how I now must listen only to what He speaks in my heart, and that I can have soft words for my children and those around me. I can hate the selfishness causing the reaction rather than being angry at the situation or other people.
If I love my children like God loves me, then I will not just react with anger and yell and scream. If I am a disciple of Christ then I must become like Jesus, and I must treat others the way Jesus would treat them. He treated people with patience and love and did not lose His temper or just say the first thing that came to mind. No, He was quiet and meek and spoke only what God worked in His heart to say. I can be firm, but speak and react with love, as Jesus would have done.
Now I can live my life being consciously aware of my temper. I can quickly realize when I am tempted to get angry. I pray immediately for help so that I don’t just react so instinctively, but I become more and more like Jesus who was patient and kind, and soft-spoken to everyone no matter what situation He was placed in.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.