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A New Year’s Resolution? No, A Life Decision . . .

January 2012
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I hate making New Year’s resolutions. HATE IT!!! I rarely keep them. That’s why I decided to start losing weight back in October 2011, and I’ve kept at it right on through the Christmas holiday and into the New Year. Twenty two pounds so far (and 37 total since April 2010)!  WOO HOO!!! And no doubt it’s working because I didn’t wait until January 1st to start. Okay, that may not be the reason, but I knew I couldn’t wait until January 1st to start doing something I needed to do right then. And, by starting it right then, I’m 22 lbs (37 lbs total) thinner then I would have been if I had waited until January 1st. WOO HOO (again)!!!

This morning while reading the few short devotionals that I read most mornings, something just jumped off the page that I need to consider working on. I’m just glad it’s January 4th instead of the 1st so maybe I don’t have to call it a “New Year’s Resolution.” It’s not that I haven’t given it a lot of thought before, but in all honesty I’ve had to learn so many lessons over these past three plus years during this very long haul of unemployment that this one particular item I felt would correct itself if and when I finally find a job again.

Unfortunately, “that dog won’t hunt.” This morning I got hit between the eyes with the following passage from Colossians 3:1-11 (MSG):

 1-2So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

 3-4Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

 5-8And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

 9-11Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.”

I still have anger issues. Most everyone in my family has anger issues. In fact, most everyone in the world has anger issues (whether they internalize them or explode in anger). I still deal with feelings of hating my old boss who fired me for his own personal reasons and has left me unemployed for almost three years now. And, my anger now mostly comes from frustration at being unemployed for this long in a truly horrible economy as I just want a life and an income again. And I’m not even picky anymore after applying for 463 jobs since my old boss fired me.

Mostly, I take out my anger in the privacy of my little seasonal rental. I rant on and on just to get the frustration out of me, but I never take it out on actual people. Unfortunately, my older brother and I did get into it a bit one day when I was in Oregon when he came home for lunch and accused me of not doing enough to find a job. He’s a classic Type A personality and I’m somewhere along the line of a Type Z (that certainly does not imply I’m lazy, but he’s just way too “in-my-face” for my liking and doesn’t give me any credit for what I have already done in trying to find employment). He’s also part owner of his own business whereas I have to rely on an employer to hire me in this horrible economy. In our case, opposites do not attract even within our own family. However, I found out that he could fling the profanity at me as quickly as I could fling it back at him. Fortunately, it was the only encounter like that we had during my eleven-day stay at his place in Oregon. For the most part we got along quite well and it was great to see my family that I hadn’t seen in several years.

Before I went to Oregon for Christmas I had a wonderful phone conversation with my niece (my older brother’s daughter) who lives out there, and who is 41, divorced and raising an adorable little son. During the conversation we got on the topic of things that made us angry and we both laughed when we discovered that we both use two very common but profane words when we’re really upset (the “F” word and the “Sh” word).

Profanity has become so commonplace in America that most of the time when I hear it I just let it roll off my back. I don’t like it when others do it and I certainly don’t like it when I do it, yet I am always amazed at how quickly those profane words enter my thoughts or come out of my mouth when someone or something has made me angry. Again, I never actually say them in anger to anyone (though I may think them) and was surprised when they did come out of my mouth when I was defending myself against my brother’s accusations when he was swearing at me.

Ugly . . .

It’s hard not to want to swear back (or actually do it) when someone is swearing at you. The disrespect is appalling. Yet, try to find a movie out of Hollywood that doesn’t use profanity in it’s script as typical conversation fillers. No wonder we have become a society of profane talkers, especially when we get angry.

Still, that’s no excuse for me for using it. I am appalled every time it comes out of my mouth (again, usually when I am alone and upset about something). And, as a Christian, it simply should not be my first reaction, no matter how common the use of profanity has become in our society.

So, I’ve decided to make it a major undertaking (and a matter of daily prayer) to stop using any kind of profanity (even in my thoughts) when I am upset or angry, and I’m not making it a “New Year’s Resolution.” I’m making it a life decision, starting right now, because Jesus Christ calls me to a higher standard of living.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. 
   And what does the LORD require of you? 
To act justly and to love mercy 
   and to walk humbly with your God.” 
Micah 6:8 (NIV 1984)

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3 Comments

  1. heartpeace says:

    Totally get the brother w/ the Type A personality and you are a Type “Z”! I am a Type Z too! I had a person like this on my case as well, many years ago. Never again…would not be soon enough to go through that again, lol 😉 Nothing I did (with emphasis on ‘what I ‘did’) was ever enough. Like your brother, he was his own boss calling the shots and had more freedom than I ever had in the work world. Maybe their cursing us is just their frustration coming out because they want to help but don’t really have the answer…? I think our walk of faith with God stretches them and it’s painful. Maybe God will use this to draw those around us into a deeper relationship with Him…maybe that’s one little miniscule reason our prayers answers are delayed…But walking this life is painful for us too! Somedays I just wish someone would unlock my prison door…but freedom is not there in that thought for me. Freedom is one minute, one day at a time, in faith,holding His hand. He is leading….He is keeping…and He is doing it HIS way. This is His story…not just ‘ours’. No, He will get the glory because we are in agreement with Him. We are invited to continue being a part of His story and I am honored and one day will be even happier about it all because I’ll see the whole story in it’s entirety, and I’ll finally…understand. That’s another thing we have to look forward to! For now, we walk by faith, trusting that HE knows very well what He’s doing ❤

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  2. sally lacey says:

    Sara, I can relate with anger and the mouth. I have the same problem, but think of what it tells us in James about the tongue. I fight this all the time. I love the comment above and agree with it as well. It seems to be family that brings the worst out of us. My blended family brings the worst out of me. 4 step-daughters that can make me use every word that I wish was not even in my thoughts. I heard on Moody today Job 23:10. I need to focus on that and hope it works soon. Hang in their. Sorry to say, I am the type A so I can relate with your brothers impatience. Type A’s always want to see results yesterday before the possible solution comes. No excuses for Type A actions, just the way we are made. I would love to change a lot of my ways but they seem to be stuck in me. I just keep praying, Lord give me power to change my attitude. I seem to need an attitude adjustment minute by minute.

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  3. Thanks Heartpeace and Sally for your comments. Anger is a common problem for everyone (even those who turn their anger inward or are passive/aggressive to people they are angry at which happens a lot in the workplace and especially with women although the guy who fired me was very passive/aggressive–doing and saying stuff behind my back–but his anger was always written all over his face (same with the passive/aggressive women). However, there’s something about combining profanity with verbal tirades of anger that makes it much more hostile to the recipient. I don’t do well around Type A’s because their anger can be explosive and abusive–and they don’t care about anything you have to say or what you think at the time they are exploding. They just think they are right, period. Unfortunately, they only come off as arrogant. Passive/aggressive people are the same way but they sneak behind your back to do their damage and then smile to your face. They delight in saying and doing things they either think you don’t know they are saying/doing or that if you do know they delight in the fact that they think you can’t do anything about it.

    In my case, my anger comes from situations and the people causing them (much like what I’ve written above), but I take out my anger alone in my little seasonal rental by swearing a blue streak to get it out of my system. And, that is what I want to stop doing (being angry and using profanity to express my anger). I have no control over angry and verbally abusive Type A’s or passive/aggressive people.

    Inappropriate anger is really an attitude and heart issue. It’s like lust–Jesus said (to men I assume) that if you look at a woman with lust you have already committed adultery with her in your heart. It’s the same with anger, if you look or think about someone who had angered you with profanity in your mind that you wish you could say to them, you’ve really already said it in your heart. I’ve heard guys say in response to the adultery example above, “Well, then I might as well do it” (usually accompanied with a laugh) but they totally miss the point of what Jesus was saying. At the core of everything we think, do or say is a heart attitude and issue. And it all starts in the mind. If our mind is dark, our lives will be dark also and we will live lives of deception, whether we recognize it or not.

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