(For the uninitiated, “Theology for Grasshoppers” is my attempt to tell my story of faith to my grandkids. I hope I’m around long enough to tell them personally. But just in case I reach the finish line before I get the opportunity, these letters will be the record of what I believe and why I believe it…in words and stories they can understand.)
Good morning, Farrasprouts…
When your daddies were young and still living with me and Mimi, they used to get into arguments. They were seldom about anything really important, but to them, the issues were almost always big deals.
They would raise their voices and twist the truth and exaggerate and say things to get under each other’s skin. One of them would often get so angry and upset, they would end up squealing, “He’s making me sooooo mad!”.
I always loved it when that happened, because it gave me the opportunity to teach them one of my most favorite lessons.
I would look right into their teary-eyed, red-faced little mugs and say, “Your brother isn’t making you mad. In fact, nobody can ever make you mad. You make yourself mad.” And they would always respond back to me, “Yes he is! Yes he is! HE’S making me mad. HE’S doing it! It’s HIS fault I’m mad!”.
They always played right into my hands.
“Nope. Nobody can ever MAKE you mad. You make yourself mad. It’s your choice. You’re choosing to make yourself mad.”
That only made them madder.
“But he’s the reason I’m mad. If he wouldn’t have done that, I wouldn’t be mad. Everything would be fine with me, if he wouldn’t have said that, and made me so mad.” They just couldn’t let it go. They would always fight my logic. “Daddy, now YOU’RE making me mad!”
It’s a lesson they got taught dozens, maybe even hundreds, of times. Getting mad is a choice we make. It is never the ONLY option. There are always many others. When someone says or does something you don’t like, you can get mad and yell or scream or fight or treat them poorly or talk about them behind their back or do or say something just as bad…or even worse…to them. In fact, that’s usually what we WANT to do.
But you don’t have to. You always have other choices. You could choose to be quiet and listen. You could try to understand their point of view. You could react with kindness, instead. You could choose to be patient and forgiving. You could step away and wait for things to calm down. You could pray for them.
Getting mad is never the only choice you have available. And even though it will probably be the easiest, it will never, ever be the best.
One of the greatest gifts God gives to us is our freedom to choose.
So choose wisely, Grasshoppers.