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This blog isn’t about exercise or food, but it is about a better quality of life. The Estate Sale at my parent’s house is over. The company that ran the sale did a wonderful job. They priced everything, did all of the negotiating, and successfully sold everything of value that was left in the house. I stayed away and let them handle everything. I’m glad I didn’t have to be there watching strangers picking over Mom & Dad’s stuff. My husband and I spent the last two days dividing what was left from the Estate Sale into three piles: metal recycle, Salvation Army donation, and trash. The rooms are empty, the floors are vacuumed, and there is a for sale sign in the front yard.
Those of you who have read my blog over the past four years have lived with me through my Dad’s concussion which left him in a wheelchair; my Dad’s drug resistant urinary tract infections which led to sepsis and his death; my Mom’s stroke nine months later, which eventually led to her death, and the long process of settling an estate.
Out of all of that, the most difficult moment of all was seeing two items left over from the Estate Sale – my old baby bed and play pen. I will tell you a story and the lesson I have learned from it.
After my sister and I outgrew the baby bed and playpen, my parents shared them with other family members who were having babies. As my cousins grew up, the baby furniture was no longer needed. It was stored here and there, probably getting in someone’s way until, at last, the next generation started having babies. Then that old furniture came out to be used again. This should have been a joyful process, but somehow there was an argument between my mother and her sisters about who should have the furniture.
It wound up with Mom, and all four of her grandchildren slept happily in that bed…but it left a rift in the family. The annual reunions stopped. People drifted apart and began to live separate lives. The close and happy family broke apart – over two pieces of furniture. My Mom was angry for a long time, not so much about the furniture itself, but that it left a division between her and the brothers and sisters with whom she had always been so close.
Across the nation several deaths were blamed of baby furniture like ours. The slats were too far apart and some babies got their little heads stuck. Laws were written, and standards were set for baby furniture. I wouldn’t dream of taking a risk with the lives of my future grandchildren. My sister felt the same way. We left the baby bed and playpen for the Estate Sale. I hoped that someone would buy them for a toy display or as an antique.
But when I went back to the house after the sale, both were still there. I can’t donate them to a Crisis Pregnancy Center – they are not safe and not legal. They are now in the garage with other worthless items waiting to be hauled to the curb for heavy trash day.
As I picked up the bed, I thought - this thing broke up a family. As I carried the play pen to the garage I thought - how could something so insignificant cause so much anger? Truly it was the saddest moment of the four years.
I am glad I can say that by the time my Mom had her stroke, she had forgotten her anger and had only nice things to say about her family. After the stroke when her speech therapist showed her pictures of her brothers and sisters, their names were some of the few words that she tried to say aloud. And every time she tried she smiled. I am glad that she was able to forgive before she died, but so many years were wasted.
I am also glad that I can honestly say that there is no one in this world that I am angry with or holding a grudge against. There are a few people who seem to be angry with me – I lost three facebook friends over what I thought was a really funny political cartoon. I don’t know what to say or how to make it right, but my heart is ready to say “I’m sorry” for whatever offense I caused, and I would leap at the opportunity to restore the relationship.
You can eat right and exercise until you are in great shape, but if you are angry and bitter on the inside, you are not healthy. The stress of anger will cause disease and rob you of your joy and vitality. I encourage you to learn to forgive and to purge bitterness from your heart. I’m not sure that is possible without a personal relationship with God. So I guess I am really encouraging you to seek God and learn from the Bible what He says about love and revenge and relationships.
I know what you’re thinking – a baby bed is a pretty trivial thing to be angry about – and some of you have issues that are much more serious. If you told me your story, I would probably agree, but what I learned is that at the end of life, the reasons for the anger don’t matter, and in the end it’s all hauled out with the trash.
But out of this 10 year transition, my humor evolved... it's goofy! I wish my diet discipline was as well developed, but that will come. Goofy is with me.
You are absolutely correct about righteous anger. God's anger over sin is part of the perfect agreement between His love and His justice. It never dawned on me that someone might interpret the blog that I thought all anger was wrong.
The biblical character I was thinking of was Jonah, who sat under the vine God provided saying, "I have a right to be angry." I was thinking of people I know who have held grudges for years, who say "I will never forgive him for that" or "I will never forget that she did this." That kind of anger is self destructive, and at the end of life the reason for all that anger doesn't matter.
People who have experienced tragedy - that's trickier. I been ripped off by scoundrels. I have many friends who have been cheated by a variety of people from ex spouses to con artists. I have a friend who was raped. I have a friend whose only child was murdered. They do indeed have a right to justice from the courts. They have a right to pursue the perpetrators even to the death pentalty where applicable. I would draw a line, however between pursuing justice and allowing anger to ferment inside for the rest of their lives. The friend whose child was murdered is in the process of publishing a book about how God has healed her heart and her husband's heart. They went through the trial and saw the murderers sentenced to life in prison. They also have allowed God to restore their joy and give them a whole new purpose in life.
Now, back to God's anger at sin. That is an anger we dare not ignore. Your example of false teachers who diabolically draw people away from God is a good one. That deserves an angry response and and a strong rebuke from God and from Christians who are charged with proclaiming the truth.
God is Holy. There is a penalty for sin - one that we cannot pay by good works or good intentions. The wages of sin is death. But Jesus paid my penalty for me, and the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The interesting thing about anger is how we justify our reasons for being angry with others, we are indignant when others are angry with us, and we presume that God will overlook our disobedience toward him.
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