Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,
For anger rests in the bosom of fools.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 NKJV
Soft red hair glinted in little lightly curled wisps around a pink and white round face while dark eyelashes kissed soft cheeks under deep brown eyes. Red pajamas with feet and an infectious little smile covered a curious nature and an independent streak a mile wide. He was 3 and his brother was 5 and they were in this phase where they wanted to quarrel.
All. The. Time.
Just like their dad and me.
But I didn’t see that at the time, blinded by self-righteousness and deceived by selfishness, I thought I only needed to be Perfect Mom in Happy Family. To do that I was going to crush this little seed of dissension in the bud, because darn it, we obediently prayed for peace and we were going to have it.
“No matter what.” I mumbled through gritted teeth.
Even if I had to drill it into their little heads with memory verses and obnoxiously patronising prayers, they were going to live in peace with each other because that was the household I was going to have.
I was the Mama. I was the boss of them.
And I was angry, angry, angry and mean in my heart toward that little boy in the footie pajamas who wouldn’t just obey because I said so. A trait I highly value in him now, by the way.
So, I pulled out that verse, just that one, to pound into our family until we looked Just Right.
“Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, For anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
Drilling and drilling that verse into their little minds and hearts relentlessly until, even at 3, with a childish lisp underscoring each syllable, he could quote it perfectly.
Yet, still they fought, while I snipped and snarked at all the unfairnesses of life… The toxic bitterness a poison well in my soul that was bringing my marriage to a dangerous precipice as I walked a line of entitlement and selfishness and drove my husband further and further from me.
I don’t know how long I kept that ugliness going but one afternoon, cruising down the street in a white minivan that looked more like a space ship than a land vehicle, another driver did something I didn’t like and I lost my precious sanity for a moment and gave myself permission again to rage long and loud.
“What.” I ground out through clenched teeth.
“Mama, anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
Came the thoughtful little voice in the car seat behind me to my left.
Came a thunderclap from the very throne of God.
Came a surgeon’s scalpel from the Holy Spirit’s hand directly to my hardened heart.
In that moment, as those words of life and truth poured like rain into my spirit, I was transformed.
The greatest moment of spiritual impact in my entire Christian walk up to that moment and since that moment was when my three-year-old son spoke and God anointed every childish syllable.
I won’t say I haven’t been angry since that afternoon, but I can tell you that the specific cruel anger permeating every fiber of my being during that awful season is gone.
It dissipated like darkness eaten by light and I found a certain kind of peace that has become a pillar of my faith to this day.
Tonight we sat in the garden apartment in Mavesaret Ziyyon, Jerusalem District, and wrestled with big ideas and deep thoughts. Words swirled around the room as we dug into a portion of Scripture that has prompted conversations for millennia.
Google and bible study tools, commentary and lexicon, logical arguments and historical context swirled around us.
Passionately, we talked about the glorious freedom we find in Christ and yet, how that very freedom as believers is limited by the degree to which we choose to love our neighbour, our fellow brother or sister. It is a privilege to seek to live in such a way that we bless those around us. Concluding that we should not use our freedom as an excuse to ignore their weakness, it seemed the conversation was wrapping up neatly.
Then he taught me. Again.
His bleached blond and light brown hair is a startling shock of silk over a long narrow face framed in tortoiseshell glasses. Long fingers tapped away at the drum pad of an iPad as he listened and made music all at the same time.
The studious researcher and the homeschool mom in me talked ancient cultures and rituals and what that meant and how it related to the study of Torah and what do we think God really meant by that…
“If we bring it into modern culture, doesn’t it mean the same thing? That a freedom to do something doesn’t make it right?” A quiet, thoughtful man voice came from the corner of a navy blue couch.
Instantly, I remembered the conversation we’d had this morning about using this year of travel and service to prepare ourselves, sorta like Esther, in a year of inward and external preparations.
“How do we prepare ourselves on the inside?” said Brian.
“The 10 commandments?” replied Dillon.
And, just like that, the day came full circle.
Simply because we have the freedom to walk in constant grace and liberty in Christ knowing that His forgiveness is always near to us does not mean that it is right to ignore those simple instructions given to us by Yeshua… Those words that resonate through time and in which the “whole Law and Prophets” is summed up.
“He told him, “‘You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah. And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot.”
To love God completely. To love others unreservedly. These are the things this young man is good at and he keeps teaching me.
Surely that is a better way to live than with anger eating away the heart of a fool.