Have you ever known anyone that just cannot seem to contain their anger? I had the opportunity to meet a woman who came across as this wonderful, kind person, but there was another side to her that I witnessed one time (actually many times) when we were together. It was an experience that I will never forget. That day things did not go my friend’s way. She quickly went from kind and loving to vengeful and angry. Her emotions bizarrely took a turn for the worse. We were both at work and I could overhear her on the phone. She was literally screaming at the poor soul that was trying to explain to my friend that she was wrong. My friend didn’t take that so lightly. She screamed back at the woman. She said things that were horrible and degrading to this person on the other line. I noticed over the next few months that this was a routine with my friend. She couldn’t stop her emotions when they came. Her boiling point was sparked by anyone that confronted her. It didn’t matter if you were a stranger or a friend, she bit your head off if you crossed the line (and the problem was the line was not blatantly obvious). I have never met anyone else quite like this (although I am sure there are more of her out there somewhere). I am sure I don’t have to tell you that our friendship did not last long. I could only tolerate so much yelling (out of the blue).
I couldn’t help but think, can God work through people like that?
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (from The Message)
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.
Looks like God knows that our human emotions may not show his light all the time. I think the key to God working within my friend would be for my friend to allow God into her heart. She wasn’t quite willing to do that yet. But the possibility always exists for her. Something that my friend taught me through this experience was that people out there do exist that can turn on you in the blink of an eye. So when I started a job in customer service, I always kept my friend in my mind. I treated each customer with respect and kindness even if they didn’t earn that respect. I tried to think of each customer as a possible “blower upper.” It certainly gave me peace during the difficult situations. So I have her to thank for that.
Thinking back into the bible, there were others that showed characteristics of my friend. For example, Paul was an incredibly mean and scary guy. Before the Road to Damascus, Paul tortured and captured Christians. For some reason, whether it was being blinded, God’s voice or Ananias’ kindness, Paul melted his heart and let Christ in. So I guess that the darkness in someone’s life can become light. Once again, I think the circumstances led Paul to turn toward God.
I encountered an experience with a “blower upper” just today. I was on my way to an appointment with T.J. when this man driving in the car behind me started riding right on my bumper. I was going a couple of miles over the speed limit, but that didn’t seem to be enough for him. He was visibly angered by my car and the way I was driving. He couldn’t wait to get passed me. I felt badly, but there was no place to pull over and let him through. I really could do nothing to make him feel any better. He was mad at something and I was just another person in his way.
This got me thinking about something T.J.’s principal had just said to me. It was one of those “ah-ha” moments. She said, “You know a lot of times when we get frustrated or mad, it isn’t someone else blocking our way – it is ourselves.” She is so right. I do tend to blame others for my anger when honestly it was probably me that caused the issue to begin with. My friend did this. Obviously her anger issues were from something going on in her life. I don’t know what it was, but it must have been horrible.
Last week I was frustrated because of the amount of dollars we were spending on our house (that we have sold and are moving out of), but honestly if I would have kept up with the repairs, I wouldn’t have had to do it all at once. It was my fault, yet I was blaming everyone but me. I should have repaired the items before the bitter end. Now, I would have no time to enjoy the new “stuff” that I was spending money on because I had put it off. Blowing up at other people would not have been the best choice for me. Once I realized that my impatience and sadness was all about my mistake, I let it go. I turned to God for help and admitted my error. I didn’t want to scream and yell at my family, because I didn’t want to be like my friend. I didn’t want to be a “blower upper.”
Back to my short-lived friendship. Yes, this woman was tough to love. She let her own problems lash out into other people’s lives. She was furious at the world yet she didn’t want to see her part in the problem. It was easier to blame others than to look inward. Even when she “won” the battle, my guess is she didn’t feel any better. How could you feel better after you demonize the other person? Just think how much different her life would be if she let God in to her heart. Look at Paul. Just think how much happier she could have been. Paul felt loved by God even in a jail writing letters to evangelize more people. My friend feels so unloved and unworthy that her bitterness has taken over her soul. Unfortunately, my friend still lives her life in this poor, miserable way. I know because I still keep in communication with her (although it is few and far between).
I have learned some valuable lessons from my friend. She has taught me so much. Just being around her (and it was difficult), made me realize that life can be pretty miserable if we wallow in our past. Life can be dreadful if we don’t let go of our bitterness. We can let life bring us down or we can choose God and let life be joyous. It is our choice to make. I think I will follow Paul’s Road to Damascus.