Dear 25 year old Nathan,
Regarding your little girl.
When you get angry, you are going to be tempted to think a sincere apology is enough.
It will not be.
No matter how sincerely filled with regret you are, it will not be enough to say sorry. You will need to fix your anger, not just apologize for it. You’ll want to do that real soon. Now is a good time. See a counsellor. Talk to a friend. Use that new Blackberry Pearl and text someone. Whatever you do, don’t try to go it solo.
Notice your perfect record when it comes to solo battles? You are 0-293.
The losses are stacking up because conquering inner demons is a team sport.
You are going to be sneaky about it, using being a Christian as an excuse. Christians never fight battles alone. With Jesus all things are possible. Or so the coffee mug told you. And Jesus is helping; but, he isn’t doing what you would like. You’d like him to wave a his magic wand and fix your issues in a way which keeps your secrets safe, salvages your arrogant pride, and keeps you from being the least bit vulnerable. No, his help will come in the form of a consistent whisper in your ear telling you to get help from a real live person.
You will say, “But Jesus, you are a real live person.”
He will say, “Stop being so stupid.”
Thank God you give in. Just after Acacia’s fourth birthday, Jesus whispering in one ear and your wife pleading in the other eventually get through to you. You pick up the phone and make an appointment to see a therapist. You’ll feel like you are walking around naked with the wrong size fig leaf for a few months, but it will be worth it. Once you humble yourself by asking for help you begin to feel God working inside you.
It’s going to be so good. Right now, you have no idea how pervasively your anger sabotages life. Even the moments when you aren’t angry are toxic because everything around you is holding its breath. When you become someone people can truly relax around life, will have a surprising new joy.
You’ll also be surprised at how deep the transformation will go. You’d have settled for being able to control your temper. You end up becoming someone who rarely has to control anger because it is simply not there. That reflex to punch a wall? Gone.
Believe me buddy, you become a new man. And the only remaining concern anger wise is your worry the kids will remember what it was like to be scared of dad.
But God takes care of that one too. Just after Acacia’s 14th Birthday, out of the blue, she will say this to you while you are driving her to school:
“Dad, you always talk in your sermons about how bad your temper was. But I’ve never ever seen that side of you.”
You’ll be able to hold it together until she gets out of the car.
Then you’ll have to park for awhile; overwhelmed by the strength of the grace which makes 1-293 into a winning record.