By Lori Ubowski
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.. ~ Psalm 103:8
This excerpt from today’s Responsorial Psalm is part of one that I’ve sung for various Masses, weddings, and funerals hundreds of times over the past thirty years. It has been one of my favorite psalms to sing throughout my music ministry journey, and I can’t read those verses without hearing the tune in my head.
I’m Not Angry, You’re Angry
As a driven and sometimes impatient woman (ask my kids, they’ll tell you), only recently have I allowed the words from that favorite psalm, “slow to anger and abounding in kindness,” to impact how I react to different situations in my daily life. “Gut-Reaction Lori” often defaulted to quickly getting worked up over opposition, injustice, disagreement, or even random or unexplainable bad things happening. My immediate response, especially in stressful situations, would be short, dismissive, or downright festering anger.
Tragedy Reveals Transformation
The turning point for me has been a progression of difficult circumstances over the past few years. I’m sure many of us have experienced unpleasant life-changing events that have caused a transformation in our lives, and I am no exception. Since late 2018, my heart has been broken by a catastrophic hurricane that displaced my family from our home, church, and workplace for over a year, difficult job loss, more job loss compounded by isolation during a pandemic, an unexpected health scare and surgery for my oldest child, a parent who suffered a debilitating stroke, and most recently the sudden death of a best friend.
It has taken a long time to embrace these challenging and wrenching experiences as opportunities for God to strip away the blinders we can wear and the walls we can put up around ourselves in an effort to protect our hearts from hurt and pain. However, as my walls started to fall and my eyes began to open (through my suffering) to the pain and suffering others walk through daily, it allowed me to slow my anger and practice more kindness toward fellow humanity.
It Will Never Stop Being Funny
Our journey to Heaven will never be neat, tidy, or seamless. There will always be pain to deal with in some form, but in those moments, I now intentionally try to take a breath, let the sadness briefly fill my eyes, realize that whatever it is cannot be solved through anger, and move on.
I will never forget one such moment during one of my daughter’s volleyball tournaments when things were getting intense. Something happened that “Gut-Reaction Lori” would have usually gotten upset over. But instead, I declared to a parent nearby, “I’ll be angry about that later.”, and we shared a collective belly laugh. That use of humor was my way of “saying” I’m going to slow my anger and choose not to let this bother me now. As it turns out, by deciding to “deal with it later,” I gave myself the time to realize that it wasn’t worth being angry about, period.
Heavenly Father, we ask that you inspire us to take down our walls and remove our blinders, allowing You to open our hearts to Your kindness and mercy. We pray that by accepting Your mercy, we will practice mercy and kindness with those and those situations You have placed in our lives.
Call to Action
Friends, if you’re struggling with anger, I encourage you to prayerfully discover ways God has shown you mercy, kindness, and patience. Don’t be afraid to be creative when trying to put the same mercy into practice around you. Ask a trusted friend for tips and accountability, look up anger coping techniques, and find a way to calm down or make the situation funny. You got this!
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Oh my goodness Lori, that is my new favorite saying! Thank you for your wonderful words of wisdom and insight! Blessings, Chris
Chris I’m glad this spoke to you and was relatable! I enjoyed sharing this with others as a reminder to myself to find humor in things.
I love the humor in this saying! I’ve also told myself, “Hey Self! I’m going to choose not to be offended”
Thank you, Carla! I like that saying you use, too!
I learned a valuable lesson from “Recovery International”many years ago, “Temper your worse enemy, humor your best friend”.
Anne, that’s great wisdom! Thanks for sharing!
Well written and contains a lot of wisdom. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Diane, appreciate your kind words!