Fall 2013-dark leaves

Friday, December 31, 2010

Stepping Heavenward--on being quick-tempered

Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss  p. 187-188

Ernest (her husband) said, "...I want you to make a distinction for yourself, which I made for you, between ill-temper, and the irritability that is the result of a goaded state of the nerves.  Until you do that, nothing can be done to relieve you from what I am sure distresses and grieves you exceedingly.  Now, I suppose that whenever you speak to me or the children in this irritated way that you lose your own self-respect, for the time, at least, and feel degraded in the sight of God also."

"Oh, Ernest! there are no words in any language that mean enough to express the anguish I feel when I speak quick, impatient words to you, the one human being in the universe whom I love with al lmy heart and soul, and to my darling little children who are almost as dear!  I pray and mourn over it day and night.  God only knows how I hate myself on account of this one horrible sin!"

"It is a sin only as you deliberately and willfully fulfill the conditions that lead to such results.  Now I am sure if you could once make up your mind in the fear of God, never to undertake more work of any sort than you can carry on calmly, quietly, without hurry or flurry, and the instant you find yourself growing nervous and like one out of breath, would stop and take breath, you would find this simple, commonsense rule doing for you what no prayers or tears could ever accomplish.  Will you try it for one month, my darling?"

"But we can't afford it," I cried, with almost a groan.  "Why, you have told me this very day that our expenses must be cut down, and now you want me to add to them by doing less work.  But the work must be done.  The children must be clothed, and there is not end to the stitches to be taken for them, and your stockings must be mended -you make enormous holes in them! and you don't like it if you ever find a button lacking to a shirt or your supply of shirts getting low."

"All you say may be true," he returned, "but I am determined that you shall not be driven to desperation as you have been of late."

By this time we had reached the house where his visit was to be made, and I had nothing to do but lean back and consider all he had been saying, over and over again, and to see its reasonableness while I could not see what was to be done for my relief.  Ah, I have often felt in moments of bitter grief at my impatience with my children, that perhaps God pitied more than He blamed me for it!  And now my dear husband was doing the same! 

...Ernest said, "Just think, dear, suppose for fifty or a hundred or two hundred dollars a year you could buy a sweet, cheerful, quiet tone of mind, would you hesitate one moment to do so?  And you can do it if you will.  You are not ill-tempered but quick-tempered; the irritability which annoys you so is a physical infirmity which will disappear the moment you cease to be goaded into it by that exacting mistress you have hitherto been to yourself."

Months ago my counselor said I needed to offer grace to myself.  Maybe I'll try grace through deep breaths. 

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