“You make me so mad, it is your fault I am angry,” said the little boy with his arms crossed tight, with a very red face. He had not let me finish my sentence, and assumed I was going to say something he did not like, which was not the case. I said the grown up thing to say, “no one can make you mad, you are choosing to be angry.” His response was the same as mine has been when someone has pointed out that I was responsible for my response, he plugged his ears. Well, I have not plugged my ears, but I have definitely stopped listening to their voice, and spelled out all the reasons I have every right to feel this way and think this way.
There is a book that I picked up a couple years back because one line on the cover jumped out, “Quit trying to parent the whole world.” (Unoffendable by Brant Hansen) This was revolutionary for me. It had not occurred to me that this was an option (I know some of you are in shock, others know what I am talking about). I am a recovering fixer and super hero wannabe. Where there is injustice, no matter how small I would intervene. That person still pops out here and there but I am more conscious of her. It has made going to the grocery store more enjoyable. Yes, I totally would “help parent” children and adults alike. Whoever “made me” think there was a “need” for help. I was there whether they asked or not. It is somewhat embarrassing to admit, and now when I catch myself heading back to the “parent of the world” role, I get slightly mortified.
Reading the actual content of the book was more difficult. There were more lines that made me want to stick my fingers in my ears, and stop listening. “Few want to hear this, but it’s true, and it can be enormously helpful in life: if you’re constantly being hurt, offended, or angered, you should honestly evaluate your inflamed ego.” Ouch! Really! I care! This is not about me! Or is it? It is my perceived “right” way to behave, or think about something, or process something, that causes me to intervene in places that are not mine. Despite the fact that this book causes me to really wrestle, I have read it twice, and am pretty sure I need to have another go around. Hansen is helping me to look at my anger, frustration, need to fix or help from another angle. Not one I prefer… my ego. This is so necessary if I want to grow and mature.
“Choosing to be unoffendable, or relinquishing my right to anger, does not mean accepting injustice. It means actively seeking justice, and loving mercy, while walking humbly with God. And that means remembering I’m not Him. What a relief.” There is freedom in knowing there is a God of justice and of mercy that can handle all this. He can even handle my anger, but I do not have to stay there. He can help me evaluate it, and see things a little clearer, to move closer to the “offender” because maybe they did not mean what they said or did in the way I interpreted it. I want people to offer me this grace, but I forget that we all need it. That little boy would have saved himself a lot of energy and trouble if he had just waited a few more seconds to see the whole situation, instead of letting his anger control him. The same goes for me, if I allow a few more minutes to let things play out before my brain runs off to all the ways this person is intentionally being offensive, and just cut them some slack and assume that they must have a good reason, or maybe they are just having a rough day, I am more peaceful and adding more grace and mercy to a world that is in desperate need of less offended people who are ready to love lavishly.