Having been a silent participant for the last bunch of chapters, I am going to make a short post (well, once again it didn’t end up being so short) on this chapter (Chapter 18) of The Excellent Wife. This one hit me hard. And I am thankful for the discipline, it is discipline I needed and have been praying for. I have been praying for a long time for wisdom to deal with how easily I find myself getting irritated sometimes. I think, for me, this one chapter is worth the cost of the book. I have found throughout this book that a lot of the underlying principles, while applying specifically as a wife, are also applicable in all areas of life as a Christian woman. Especially the subject of unrighteous anger.
I don't typically find that I struggle a lot with uncontrolled temper with my husband. Sometimes I do have to fight the slow burn, sulk and pout and cry kind of anger, however, which is just as wrong as an outburst, by the way, and have to confess that when I do, but I don’t tend to blow up with him too often. This shows me that I actually have more control over my tongue than I would have admitted a while back because as I look at how I interact with my children, I can see that I don’t always exercise as careful control with them. I do tend to snap at them or speak sarcastically when I’m frustrated and say things or use tones I regret later. I do know that when I am tired I need to guard my words more carefully, because I tend to be shorter and more irritable than I would like to be. I don’t want to be the kind of woman who is bristly, who my family has to say, “If Momma isn’t happy, no one’s happy.” I am growing in grace to learn to practice setting a better tone, and I’m thankful for the encouragement this book has given in that area.
I think the most convicting and encouraging thought from this chapter, for me, has been that man's anger does not achieve the righteousness of God. (James 1:20) I need to keep rehearsing that to myself when I feel irritation beginning to rise.
Mrs. Peace’s four biblical steps to change character, starting on page 242 of Chapter 18 are an answer to prayer for me. Literally. I have begun to put these into practice and it is making such a difference in the daily things.
1. Teaching – I am working to memorize and think about scriptures that deal with wise use of the tongue and patience. The verses she listed (James 1:19-20, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Proverbs 16:32, and Proverbs 15:28) are very helpful, and as I am thinking on them, they do come to mind at opportune moments. I have a long way to go on this, though. The interesting thing is that I had already begun dealing with this, as I noted in an earlier post when I mentioned my conviction that I need to control my tongue better, and this chapter reinforced and encouraged that resolve.
2. Reproof – I am finding the suggestion to keep a journal and write out times I even feel frustrated or irritated, before I actually get angry or sulky, is immensely helpful. It is helping me to see where my thinking is wrong, to see the kinds of things that trigger frustration and to begin thinking through changes I need to make to avoid or better manage those things and to see where I handle things well and where I need to repent and change. This is just so helpful. Also, knowing I will be writing it down helps me to recognize frustration before it gets to the anger stage.
3. Correction – The encouragement to correct not only words but tone of voice was excellent. I’ve said before that this is where I am the worst. Often it isn’t so much the words I’m saying, but the way I’m saying them that is hurtful. Often the words need to be said, but I could say them in a gentler way, and this I am working on and learning to stop and confess when I realize I’m not doing right.
4. Training in righteousness – Practice what I know is right! I did not develop wrong habits for dealing with irritation or frustration in day, and it will take work to retrain my thinking. I was thinking the other day how it is easy to pull the top of a weed off, but harder to pull out the roots. I want to deal with the roots and understand the wrong thinking that leads to unrighteous irritations. Pray, pray, pray for the wisdom to obey, even when I don’t feel like it. I have been tired and stressed lately with Drew being gone so much, but that is no excuse for me to let feelings dictate my tone of voice. This is not easy, but it is so necessary to understand and practice. I want my attitude to glorify God
I think, ultimately, my giving in to either pouting or sarcastic irritation is usually rooted in selfishness. I have been really teaching myself to think about Philippians 2:3-4 and preferring others as more important than myself. I’ve been teaching it to the boys as a way to deal with the constant bickering, but as I’m teaching them, I’m teaching me, too.
For me, though the rest of this book has been very, very helpful, this was the most helpful chapter yet. I’m glad I’ve stuck with the reading, even though I haven’t been posting as much.
Oops! It's been so long since I've posted during this read-along that I forgot to link back to Leslie's post. Here you can see what she said about this chapter and what others are saying, too.