My trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond was already too long. I had agonized over what curtains to get. My cart and I had already circumnavigated the store once with a steel blue color before I decided that blue wasn’t neutral enough. Back to the curtain nook to swap colors, I finally checked out and made my way back home.
I measured and screwed and leveled the hardware for the extension rod, pleased that I hadn’t lost my handy-woman skills. In the midst of adjusting the rod, a quick snap left my curtains drooping on one side. I had managed to step on excess fabric, bending the cheap metal at a rakish angle.
Immediately, I am peeved. Not only was I the one to ruin our new wall hanging, I wasted part of my afternoon working on a project that I didn’t complete. Woe unto Tim, who was a witness to my huffing and puffing at the decorating turn of events. I would barely acknowledge his efforts to straighten the rod or purchase a sturdier (ie: clumsy foot proof) one.
Right before this decorating disaster occurred, I had been listening to last Sunday’s message from my church back home, per my mom’s recommendation. Her text read: “Bruce’s sermon was direct and excellent. Worth a listen if you have a chance.”
Well, I had purposely created a chance to listen while I was putting up curtains. Little did I know God was crafting a very real sermon illustration in the process. Direct and excellent, indeed…
Pastor Bruce’s sermon was on James 1:19-21.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
He had just finished describing the Greek word for anger when I turned it off because Tim came home. The curtain rod incident ensued as detailed above. When Tim went back to work, hurried on by my pouting and childish attitude, I rewound the sermon just a bit and pressed play, only to hear Pastor Bruce redefine anger again. In verse 19, James uses the Greek word ὀργήν, which has multiple layers of meaning. ὀργήν is an anger defined by inner frustration, deep resentment, and seething, smoldering feelings.
Inner frustration – Check. Deep resentment – Check. Smoldering and seething – Check.
I was so frustrated at myself for stepping on that darn curtain and wasting time on a project that didn’t get any closer to completion. Frustration turned into resentment of the situation and my lameness. In five minutes, I wasn’t able to contain my smoldering irritation.
This alone would have been bad enough, but I had a physical witness to my childish behavior. I wasn’t angry at Tim, but my feelings leeched out in my attitude, making me irritable and unavailable when he was only trying to be helpful. My inner frustration caused emotional distance to wedge between us and gave me a an outlook far from joyful.
“…for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
I’m ashamed that it took curtains to show me what truth lies in that statement.
Update: Sadly, there’s a part two to this story…