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Friday, April 21, 2017

"Out of Control:" Chapter 15

For the explanation of my current series, go to the first installment: http://bit.ly/2nnCvFx

Out of Control:
A Christian Parent’s Victorious Struggle with Child Abuse

A Memoir by Kathy Collard Miller

Chapter 15
Seven Steps

August 1st

I glanced at the many rows of book racks and was amazed. This Christian bookstore had added a lot of books and items since I had last been here. How was I ever going to choose a book for my neighbor, Alice, to read in the hospital. 

Then a title in the family section caught my eye. Picking it up, I read Understanding the Male Temperament by Tim LaHaye. I laughed. Boy, could I stand to learn about Larry's temperament. The more I looked through it, the more interested I became. Maybe if I understand Larry, I won't always be trying to change him. I decided I would buy it along with something else for Alice.

That afternoon, when Darcy and Mark both went down for their naps easily, I praised the Lord. Now I could start my book. Two hours later I was still reading and thrilled the kids were still asleep. Fascinated, I read about the four different temperaments Mr. LaHaye described. I identified Larry's temperament--and mine. No wonder he reacts the way he does. And no wonder I react the way I do. I've always known Larry doesn't look at things the same way I do, but I've never understood why. Now I know. 

For the next couple of days, I read every spare moment I could. I began to understand my melancholy temperament often resulted in perfectionism. For the first time, I acknowledged I was one. What a revelation. I was strangely encouraged and prayed, "Lord, keep showing me what's going on inside me feeding my anger."

Toward the end of the book, Mr. LaHaye included "How to Cure Anger, Bitterness, or Resentment." (Tweet that!) A spark of hope lit within my heart as I read the section. Lord, is this another reason you prompted me to buy this book?

I read eagerly the first step: "Face your anger as sin." I didn't know if I wanted to call my anger sin all the time. But maybe it was. "Okay, Father, I'm going to start off on the right foot by telling you I agree my anger habit is wrong, that it is sin. Please forgive me."

Okay, good start. Step two was "Confess every angry thought or deed as soon as it occurs." That was interesting because I tended to wait until bedtime to confess my sins from the day. Following this step would be different, and maybe important.

"Ask God to take away this angry pattern" was step three. Okay, I will again even though I've been begging for that for almost a year. Here goes. Father, I ask you to take away my angry thought pattern. My faith is weak but help my unbelief.

Step four said: "Forgive the person who has caused your anger." Darcy! Larry! They were the two people I most often was angry with. But forgive them? I was the one who needed forgiveness. But weren't they imperfect and had failed me? I was expecting them to meet my needs and they couldn't do it. 

All right, Lord, I ask you to help me forgive them. I know you are using them to make me more of the godly woman you want me to be. I just keep taking this mass of clay off your potter's wheel. Help me stay there!

"Formally give thanks for anything that bothers you," spelled out number five. This was becoming ridiculous. It might take all day to follow through on this step. Everything bothered me. As I clicked off in my mind a long list, I realized these were the temptations I needed to watch for.

I jumped up from the sofa and retrieved a piece of paper and pen, writing them down. I put it beside Darcy's list on the refrigerator.

Returning to the couch, I read for the sixth step: "Think only good, wholesome, and positive thoughts." I knew this would be difficult. Lately I couldn't see hardly anything good in my life. How can I change that? Remembering how someone had told me in the past about a "blessings list," I made another list. I was shocked how many things I was able to come up with. Even though I felt ridiculous, I put that list on the refrigerator too.

Finally I came to the last step: "Repeat the above formula each time you are angry." I laughed but I understood the importance. This wasn't going to be a one time thing, but a process. I didn't particularly like that idea. I had been praying for an instantaneous deliverance. But since God hadn't answered that with a "yes," I decided I needed to give God time to work through these ideas. 

Not only did I write out the seven steps--another list for the refrigerator!--I wrote out verses on index cards referring to anger and put them in different places in the house. On my bathroom mirror, the card with Proverbs 10:12 reminded me how to love Darcy: "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses." I memorized it and repeated it to myself often. It reminded me that my anger had only made things worse, not better. Why would I choose it?

As the next few weeks went along, I went through the steps over and over again and it seemed like I wasn't reacting with as much anger. And if I did, it wasn't explosive. The light at the end of the train tunnel was growing. Maybe God loved me and my family after all.




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