Anger, disappointment, resentment, hurt: these are emotions we’d prefer to avoid. If we could choose, we’d rather live happy, content, and fulfilled, wouldn’t we? What if there was a way to significantly reduce the amount of time we spend angry or hurt? If we understand the root cause of these negative emotions and the negative situations they lead us into, we can find victory and spend more of our time cultivating excellent relationships and enjoying the time we have.
Our Many Gifts
We enjoy so many incredible blessings in our everyday life. Just think about the comfortable bed you slept in last night, the delicious dinner you ate, and the people around you that truly and deeply love you. We could spend all day listing all the great things in our lives—things given to us by the Maker of all things.
We desire good things—and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is good to enjoy and appreciate all the wonderful blessings we have every day. But there is a good way and a bad way to hold these blessings. One will give us great fulfillment and thankful hearts, while the other will produce the harmful emotions listed above.
With Open Hands?
The difference is this: do you hold your gifts with open hands or closed fists? You see, when our desires are met, we have a choice. We either recognize that the blessing that we received is a gift of God, or we start to close our hands around it and begin thinking we own it. As we neglect to thank God for a particular blessing, we slowly close our grip around it, wishing to keep it within our possession.
The Enemy works gradually, taking some new blessing and day by day inducing us to feel more and more that we earned it, we deserve it, and we need it. Once we view that blessing as something we need, we will react in anger when it is threatened.
Thankful to Expectation to Need
Consider the simple act of a man writing a love poem to his wife every week. When he first begins this act of love and appreciation, his wife may be delighted! She feels loved and cherished, and expresses her thanks to him. But over time, as the notes continue to come week after week, this blessing may turn into an expectation in her mind. She begins to think she deserves these notes, and her husband owes them to her. If he misses one week, she will feel emotions of disappointment, resentment, or even anger.
But this is all rooted in a choice—if the woman in the story above simply appreciated the love notes as a blessing, she will each week feel the emotions of thankfulness, happiness, and love when her husband gives the poem. If one week the husband should fail to present a poem, she will miss it, but that’s all. She only feels anger, hurt, and resentment when the gift is expected and assumed. Put another way, she will feel anger and disappointment when her need for her weekly poem isn’t met.
Perhaps this seems silly to you, that a woman should come to need an expect a poem from her husband every week. But what about you and me? Are there not blessings in our life that we one didn’t have, now have, and now expect we shall always have? God has bestowed amazing gifts upon you and me—do we hold them with an open hand?
The Example of Open Hands
Job is was one of the richest men in the world in his day—not only in material wealth, but also with many children, as well as the love and respect of his neighbors. In one day, it was all taken from him, and yet his response was this: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21).
Are there things you expect from those around you? Do you need and demand that your coworkers speak well of you, such that when they disparage you you become angry? Do you expect your mentors to have perfect understanding in everything they teach and council you? Do you expect you spouse to always be there to meet your needs and do the things you want them to do?
What Perspective Will You Choose?
Let’s make the decision today to stop letting anger have root in our hearts. If we will recognize that the blessings we enjoy each day are gifts—gifts that are not promised to be there tomorrow—we will increase our reliance upon the Lord, our appreciation of His grace, and the moments of life that bear the hallmark of peaceful contentedness.