As with most things, the Bible puts it best.
Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self control than one who takes a city.
Proverbs 16 v 32.
And normally I’m not an angry person. My patience levels are doing ok. I fight for young people and I advocate against issues of injustice, but I don’t lose control.
I’m normally articulate.
But today, a situation made me really, really angry.
To the point where I was quoting this verse to myself, circling it round and round in the recesses of my brain.
To the point where the sheer rudeness of a couple of professional individuals who really should have known better had me raging on the inside.
To the point where I got defensive on behalf of my team and on behalf of what they were delivering, and I really had to pray that Holy Spirit would give me His self control where mine was failing.
Because with young people, I find that my patience levels are deep and vast. You expect the rudeness on occasion, you know they’ll mock you sometimes, you’re even prepared for manipulation. It’s often not malicious, it’s how they’ve survived the experiences they’ve lived through.
But people who should know better than personal attacks and behaviour that doesn’t keep young people at the centre of the work? Hmmm… That makes me annoyed.
There’s no excuse for personally targeted rudeness. Ever.
And as a Christian how do you respond in this situation? How do you challenge wrong behaviour that is causing distress to others, but yet keep the self control that Holy Spirit gives? How can you be a peacemaker whilst still confronting rudeness and discrimination? Where’s the balance?
Hosanna Wong performs a funnily true piece of poetry called ‘Crayons’… The premise of it begins in the sand pit, where a little boy throws crayons at a girl in his class. And when she tells her mother, her mother responds, ‘You don’t have to be friends with him…’ And so the poem continues, that when people won’t stop throwing crayons (metaphorically), we don’t have to be ok with it, and we don’t have to let it pass unspoken of.
Because it’s not crazy to fight against injustice.
But she makes this great point, ‘And part of me wants to be like them, give me some crayola and throw it back at them, but then I look in the mirror, and realise my mother taught me better.’
And there for me in the challenge.
We can confront injustice and challenge rudeness, because that’s what Jesus did. He confronted the pharisees. He threw the sellers out of the temple. He offended the religious.
But He was the Prince of Peace.
Perfectly and sinlessly in control.
All the time.
So where’s the balance?
The balance is in not throwing crayons.
Because that’s when we’re more concerned about getting one up on someone and being right, than pursuing what is Righteous.
And that’s when it becomes about us and our anger, rather than about pursuing godliness and protecting those who need defending.
So I don’t want to throw crayons.
And I pray God gives me His self control.