Sunday evening could not arrive fast enough. I was expecting the kids to come running in excited to be back. Instead three exhausted, hesitant people walked in dragging their feet. I wanted more than anything to find out how things went, but I feared if I got started with questions it would soon feel like an interrogation. I couldn’t help but ask a few things – Did you have fun? Was it good to be back in your rooms? Did everything go okay?
Answers were short and to the point. The boys were hyper, my daughter was moody. They had to be confused and frustrated with going back and forth from what had been their home only a couple of short weeks ago, to their grandparent’s house which had once been a place to visit and return from.
They were later than expected getting back, which didn’t surprise me. I asked about homework. They replied that whenever they brought it up over the weekend their Dad would get mad. He explained that the weekends with him were not for doing homework, but for spending time together. I had already suspected this process would be a battle, and it appeared I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Regardless, my heart overflowed with gratitude that they were safely back. I knew there would be much to discuss over the next few days. My daughter revealed something that night, however, that especially troubled me. She asked if I thought it was weird for her Dad to have scriptures and pictures of me taped all over the walls of his bedroom. She described how eerie it was…almost like a shrine. A chill ran down my spine. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Was it simply grief, or was it obsession? In either case I felt objectified and used instead of missed or honored.
For the first time in a very long time I felt anger instead of fear, fury instead of pity. I was tired of being manipulated and used. I was fed up with him making me responsible for his happiness. I had hoped the weekend could be about the kids and their Dad instead of yet another time focused on our issues. I was angry that my children were having to make sacrifices because their parents could not be normal, whatever normal was. I was angry with the system for not seeing the obvious and for pushing these kids to deal with things for which they were not prepared. Just as Dad predicted, I had begun to find my anger. I went to my room, cried, and beat the devil out of one of Mom’s new pillows. It felt so good to begin allowing myself to feel. I had made excuses for him for so long. I had attempted to keep an even keel, which was an impossible reality when dealing with the issues presenting themselves in his behavior.
Exhausted, I cried myself to sleep. Just before drifting off I remembered Dad’s words and wondered how I would ever learn to manage my anger instead of letting my anger manage me. At the moment it seemed like an impossible task. I would soon learn how God would strengthen, teach, and equip me to handle this task. I would also learn how it would be an ongoing process.
“Thank You, Lord, for teaching me, for protecting me, and from keeping my heart from being overtaken by bitterness. Please help me to continue looking to You day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, to keep my heart in the right place. Please be with others who may be fighting this same battle. I pray for Your Divine Presence and Power to work in their hearts right now as they read this, bringing them hope. Rescue us from ourselves, Lord, whenever we need rescuing. I ask these things in Your son, Jesus’, precious name, Amen.”
“Bitterness is anger gone sour, an attitude of deep discontent that poisons our souls and destroys our peace.” Billy Graham