In an effort to beat the heat, I bought each of my three boys a super squirter. The cheap plastic and foam contraption launches a stream of water with unexpected force several feet. My three-year-old, August, shot several torrents of water through the bedroom window, drenching the bed. Next he aimed through the doorway, watering the tile kitchen floor. I caught his shenanigans when his eighteen-month-old brother, Liam, slipped in August’s puddle and conked his head. I kissed the knot on Liam’s noggin, scolded August, and mopped up the mess.
Forty-five minutes later, Liam let out another whooping wail.
This kid could be an opera singer someday; he’s got lungs.
Sure enough, Liam lay sprawled across the kitchen floor in yet another puddle. Frustrated, I stomped into the backyard to confiscate the offending super squirter. A flake of gold-colored foil caught my eye. No. NO!
My eyes followed a terrible trail, chocolate wrapper after chocolate wrapper strewn across the decorative brick pathway. The trail ended at the bare feet of an innocent looking three-year-old holding a super squirter.
I looked into his beautiful greenish-blue eyes, ignoring his long black lashes.
“August. Did you get into my chocolate?”
“No. Maybe Liam did.”
He lied without remorse, staring cherubically straight into my face. My hands shook with the intensity of my fury. I could feel the rage monster inside me screaming.
Alone, I couldn’t rein it in.
I turned to an ancient practice, older than Jesus—praying the Psalms. Sometimes I don’t have words for what I’m feeling, much less prayers. The Psalms are poetry, songs, passion-inspired words dripping with raw emotion. Sometimes I change the wording to suit my needs. Many times I don’t need to.
Psalm 13 helped.
HOW LONG, Lord?? Will August be three forever?
How long will he lie to my face?
How long must I wrestle with my ugly anger
causing sorrow in my heart?
How long will anger rule over me?
Look at me! Answer me!
Enlighten me or I’m going to die!
Then anger wins.
But I trust your unfailing love.
Thank you for saving me.
I’ll sing the Lord’s praise.
For he has been good to me.
Praying the Psalms kills my rage monster.
Praying the Psalms fights spiritual battles that I can’t see. Listening to my own voice speak ancient words of comfort, love, despair, angst, and joy gives me some perspective and reminds me where emotions originated—with my creator.
Photo credit for Rage: Ahmet Yazir
Ellen Benefield writes about missionary life and parenting at Mexicomercy.blogspot.com. She and her husband, Kyle, planted a church in a low-income community called Doña Chonita seven years ago. They have three children, all born in Mazatlán.
My husband Kyle grew up planning to be a doctor. He met Jesus late in high school. Our first year in college, we went to a church planting conference. He very clearly heard the Holy Spirit tell him that he would be a church planter in Latin America. He argued for a while, and eventually gave in. In the 12 years that have followed, he hasn't looked back. When we told me his new plan, I was thrilled. I never saw myself as a doctor's wife. We got married, finished out degrees, and spent 9 months in training at our local church. In the summer of 2007, we loaded up my grandpa's pickup and moved to Mazatlan, Mexico.