The value of self-control

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been told that I have no self-control. I’ve always had a temper, fueled oftentimes by my older brother’s relentless teasing. He’d know just what hot button to push that would send me into a tantrum, screaming at the top of my lungs out of frustration. I had quite a reputation in the neighborhood and I lost my voice so often my mother took me to the doctor for treatment.

In first grade, my teacher wrote on my report card that I had a problem with self-control.

As I got older, that temper that would flare out in tantrums turned inward, causing bouts of melancholy and depression.

Age does have its benefits, one of them being that my hot temper has cooled somewhat. But aggravation is the surest hot button that sets up off, such as trying to clean mold with a potent cleaner and a toothbrush from my bathroom ceiling. The temper flared and the ranting began, loud enough such that my own family complained!

I’m a very vocal person in that I talk to myself all the time. Yes, I’m one of those nuts you see driving down the highway, mouth yapping and arms flailing as I work out a thought or emotion. When I get angry, I especially work out my feelings in that way. I never thought it would do harm to myself or anyone else. After all, I was just letting off steam.

Then, a few months ago, I got a hold of the new Confession app. This app leads you through the preparation necessary to make a good confession by guiding you through the 10 Commandments. It also has a place where you can add a customized list of sins. It was here that God first began to speak to me about my lack of self-control (aka, Venting): He prompted me to add the following: “Do I lose my self-control and give in to angry venting?”

I wasn’t really sure why I added it to my list, I just knew I was prone to it. I figured maybe it wasn’t good for me to be doing it though I didn’t really know why. Today, I finally figured it out.

Remember that bathroom I told you about and the ranting that went on with trying to clean it? That was Saturday. Today (Wednesday) I found myself in a funk; in fact, I had been in one all week. And I was spoiling for a fight wherever I could find one. It was almost like I was inviting aggravation to come to me so I could rant about it!

I also felt very distant from Jesus, like a wall had been erected between us.

I already was feeling vulnerable because my mother’s anniversary of her passing is next Friday (April 22) and I’ve started reliving those terrible weeks up to the day she died. satan (not a typo, I will never initial cap his name) saw an opportunity and took advantage of it, deceiving me into thinking that it was perfectly alright to dig into my anger and let it all out.

I was hurting myself, flooding myself with negative thoughts and feelings. It caused me to be irritable with my husband, children and even the cats. And it finally overwhelmed me yesterday such that I called the home bound woman I take communion to and told her I couldn’t make it. I didn’t want to be seen feeling the way I felt and I had lost the desire to put on a happy face.

That’s when I realized that my lack of self-control was not okay. I not only hurt myself with a tidal wave of negativity, I hurt someone else, someone who needed me.

So this morning I turned to the Lord and told Him everything that I was feeling and begged forgiveness for allowing my selfish need to vent to hurt others. I could feel Him drawing me near, offering me forgiveness, and telling me just to “be.” He would remove all the ugliness that was my anger and frustration. And slowly, throughout the day, I have felt that “crud” lifting off of me.

Now I know how important it is to stop and think before losing my self-control. That sin that I added to my Confession app list was meant to be there and will now remind me every time I feel the temptation to vent.

I am grateful to God that He has revealed this truth to me for my anger has plagued me all my life. Indeed, nothing is impossible for God!

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