I have a temper! I’m not easily offended. I try with some success to be optimistic and hopeful. I like to think I’m kind to others and pleasant to be around. But, when I’m provoked to my boiling point watch out. I have a temper!!!
When I was little my grandma used to get so upset when I would fight with my sister. I decided one year that I was going to make a New Year’s resolution to go a whole year without fighting with my sister. This resolution did not fall into the goal making guideline of keeping a goal doable but that was my goal nonetheless. I did really well for a few days and then my sister found out about my goal and decided to “test” me. She has always known how to push my buttons and she pushed every one of them until I snapped. In less than two weeks my resolution had crumbled before my eyes.
As I grew older my sister went away to college and aside from the occasional teenage spat with my parents, and these were very occasional, I felt like I had my temper under control. I never blew up with anyone. And then I got married. Scott and I were high school sweethearts, I wrote him on his mission, and we dated for another year when he got home before we got married. Needless to say, we were very comfortable with each other when we got married. This was wonderful in many ways but it also opened the door for my temper to rear its ugly head.
Once again I went to work learning to control my temper. I prayed for help, looked at myself and how I could be better, and I tried to be more forgiving and patient. Little by little I reined my temper in and after several years I felt like I had once again conquered my ugly temper.
Then…I had children. It’s been more than 12 years now and I’m still trying to reconquer my temper. I can’t count the number of times I’ve cried to my heavenly father for help and forgiveness. Or, the countless times I’ve had to ask my children for forgiveness. Or, the apologies to Scott for being a turd because he’s once again the center of my attacks. Fortunately for me, my heavenly father listens, loves, forgives, and guides. My children are always forgiving and easily forget and Scott is quick to remember that none of us are perfect and he cuts me a lot of slack.
So, the big question is why? Why does God allow me to struggle through a weakness that I desperately want to change and that can be damaging to those around me, especially my children whom I should protect and love? Why do I have to continue to struggle and fail for so many years? Why do I fall every time I think I have it under control?
A theme that I have noticed in the Book of Mormon is that the weakness of the writing of the Nephites would be a hindrance to the Lord’s work in the latter days. Moroni said he feared that the “Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing”. I love the Lord’s response.
Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness; And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:26-27)
This verse has carried me through many days of weakness. Because of my weakness, I have been brought to my knees. I have turned to my Father in Heaven when I had nowhere else to turn. I have seen the redeeming and enabling power of the Atonement work on my behalf. And, I have been guided to answers as I have studied and pondered.
Just a few days ago, after a rather challenging few days, I was listening to Sister Joy D. Jones’s talk from the April 2017 General Conference. She told the following story:
In family home evening, a father asked, “How are we getting along as a family?” Five-year-old Lizzie complained that her big brother, Kevin, was teasing her too much and hurting her feelings. Kevin reluctantly admitted that Lizzie was right. Kevin’s mother asked him what he could do to get along better with his sister. Kevin thought and decided he would promise Lizzie that he would go one whole day without teasing her.
At the end of the next day as everyone gathered for family prayer, Kevin’s dad asked Kevin how he had done. Kevin’s response was “Dad, I kept my promise!” Lizzie happily agreed, and the family congratulated Kevin.
Kevin’s mother then suggested that if he could keep his promise for one day, why couldn’t he do it for two days? Kevin agreed to try it again. Two days passed, Kevin was successful in keeping his promise, and Lizzie was even more thankful! When his father asked why he was keeping his promises so well, Kevin said, “I kept my promise because I said I would.”
A succession of small, successfully kept promises leads to integrity.
This little story changed my prayers. Instead of asking for help to be more patient with my children, or to recognize when I need to walk away I made a promise that I would go one day without yelling at my kids. Now, I don’t yell at my kids every day so going one day was not out of my realm of possibilities and I did it. So I decided that I could promise to go two days. Minus one little hiccup, I am well into my second day of keeping my promise. As for that one little hiccup, I quickly remembered that I had made a promise and that I keep promises. I caught myself almost before my four year old even realized that I was raising my voice.
I’m looking forward to the day when I will be that mom who is always calm and never raises her voice in anger with her children. I also recognize that it’s my weakness that has allowed me to learn how to turn to the Lord and seek His guidance. I have also learned that his grace is sufficient for me.
How about you? How have you seen the Lord guide you in your weakness?