As you may know, Canim thinks I’m as close to perfect as a human can possibly be. Bless his heart. But, there is one quality of mine that he is not jazzed about.
You see, anger is like a volcano. We all have a little volcano within us. It can be extremely dangerous and cause irreparable damage, but only if it erupts. A volcano can be active, dormant, or extinct. I don’t think anyone can say their anger is extinct, but once upon a time, my anger was largely dormant, as I believe is true for most people; that means it’s not currently erupting, but is likely to in the future. Lately, I’ve been a more active volcano. Not Vesuvius level, but you can definitely see some smoke rising more and more often.
What’s the source of my anger? Many things, but they all stem from the same place: stupidity. Okay, fine, that’s not a nice word. Thoughtlessness. Thoughtless behavior. My job requires me to interact with at least 50+ people per day. They are usually the same people with minor variations from time to time. When you interact with so many people so frequently, thoughtless behavior is more common than if you were holed up behind a cubicle for 40 hours a week.
Canim doesn’t love that my volcano has been so active lately. He always finds a gentle, calm, and loving way to tell me to CHILL THE HECK OUT. He says,”Please, darling. Don’t be quickly angry.” It’s really very sweet and I’m amazed by his patience. What he doesn’t understand is that most of the time, I go through a “calming” process in my brain and I try my darndest not to lose my cool. But while I’m trying to think happy thoughts and breathe deeply, the thoughtless person is busy doing more thoughtless things to make smoke come out of my ears. And then I erupt. But to people who are not living in my brain, I look like a hot-head because I go from 0 to 60 in the blink of a thoughtless eye.
The turning point for me was yesterday afternoon. After months of hearing comments from Canim and my work BFF about controlling my anger (which of course only I can do, but um, can people also provoke me a little less??), I finally came to a revelation:Stupidity makes me angry. People will never stop being stupid, but I can’t always be angry. I can’t change them, but I can change how I respond to their
Who can I thank for this revelation? Two thoughtless people who provoked the heck out of me yesterday.1) The “company” I work for has many clients. Yesterday, one client had clearly violated my company’s policy. The client had two warnings to stop violating the policy, and the third time the client brazenly disregarded the policy, I took action (and after reviewing the company’s policy, I realized I was actually very lenient and I could have done more, but I didn’t see the need). The client’s head manager then confronted me (read: blindsided me like WHOA), but in Turkish. I understood most of what she was saying (read: shouting), but when I tried to answer her questions and explain why I was correct, she yelled over me,”ANLAMADIM” (“I don’t understand!). Well. If you’re going to yell at me (in front of colleagues and other clients) in your language and you expect me to understand you but I am not allowed to defend myself in my language, then this is an unfair fight, isn’t it? She walked away, I shouted,”SORRY!” louder than I probably should have, and slammed the door (also definitely louder than I should have).
Needless to say, I was shaken and I went home feeling awful. AW-FUL. So, I went to the market to buy some things for dinner, and Thoughtless #2 showed up.
2) I have a neighbor who is really particular about not letting the site gate slam shut. She’s on the ground floor and has a young child, so I get it. It’s annoying. But you know what? It’s an iron gate. It was not designed to shut quietly. Months ago, I introduced myself to her and I was smiling and trying to speak as much Turkish as possible. Not only did she not say hello or introduce herself, but she scowled at me and only said,”Close the gate quietly.” MMMK. I found her to be incredibly rude, but I honored her request.
I honored that request FOR MONTHS. Until yesterday. Picture it: I have an open umbrella, my wallet, and my keys in one hand. I have four shopping bags dangling off of each arm, and I’m trying to get through the gate *quietly* at 4 p.m. Well, I failed, okay? It slammed behind me. I winced and issued an apology to the air. Suddenly I heard someone banging their hands on the window of her apartment. I stopped to check it out, and I only saw a moving curtain. So, I walked up the stairs to enter my building and I heard her door open (she lives in the building across from mine). Wouldn’t you know, she was standing in the doorway with her hand on her hip?!?! I was doing gymnastics trying to open my door without dropping everything in my hands, only to see her standing in that pose. So I opened my door, let all of my things drop to the ground, and I put MY hands on MY hips because GIRRRRRRRL you cannot out-attitude a Puerto Rican. You just simply cannot. She walked away and didn’t say anything. THAT’S RIGHT.
After several minutes of deep breathing and imagining Canim’s voice saying,”Darling, please don’t be quickly angry,” I had my revelation (stupid people won’t change). Then I thought of my friend in the States who has been dealing with a LOT of hard stuff this year. She told me she had arranged a small corner of her room to be her prayer nook. It’s just a simple space to unwind, center your thoughts, and call on a Higher Power for some guidance. I was inspired to put my own nook together earlier in the week, but hadn’t actually used it. So, I figured I’d give it a shot.
I found tons of things to pray about. Mainly, my anger and the way it doesn’t accomplish much other than taking me away from all that is good. So, I asked Him to forgive me and to help me to be gracious when I want to be explosive. Being gracious (in this sense) means that even when people do something wrong and act like complete idiots, I need to be patient and kind in my reaction (unless it’s a case of righteous anger which is completely different). Why do I have to do that? Because I do stupid things all the time. I do mindless, THOUGHTLESS things that I don’t even realize frustrate and hurt other people. But most of them are gracious to me. And God is gracious to me. So, grace in, grace out. I receive it, so I’d better figure out how to dish it out!
Here’s my prayer nook. The mat was given to me by some colleagues last year (not the same religion, but we value prayer just the same), a candle, some matches, a Bible, and a book of daily devotions. It’s simple, and I love it. I used it this morning when I happened to wake up just before the call to prayer at 4 am. Again, not the same religion, but the need for frequent prayer is the same.
Proverbs 14:29: Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.