I don't know what set her off. It could have been anything really — she'd been skulking around the house all morning like a wounded bear. I tried to talk to her and she growled at me. I tried to hug her and she pushed me away. Chloe was in a bad mood, and she was determined to stay that way.
But something happened to escalate the situation. As I said, I don't know what set her off, but Chloe flew into a rage and started screaming and crying. There was a large pink plastic ball, the kind you buy at a department store, sitting in the middle of the floor. To express her displeasure in the most forceful way she could imagine, Chloe ran up to the ball, raised her foot back and kicked ... nothing.
I think she did touch the ball, at least. It was a glancing blow off the side of her foot, because the ball never left the ground but went spinning away from her across the floor. Chloe, however, did leave the ground — and immediately returned. When she kicked the ball, her other foot went out from under her. Chloe was airborne for a split second before she came crashing down.
It didn't help matters much when she landed on her bottom. Chloe yelled, she screamed, she cried — she was in an even more foul mood than she had been before.
In this instance, God taught me a lesson. That lesson is, "control yourself and your emotions."
James 1:19-20 says, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."
Don't get me wrong. It's not a sin to be angry. Ephesians 4:26 says, "In your anger do not sin." This means that we will get angry from time to time, but the expression of our anger — that can lead to sin.
What happened the last time you got angry? Did you say or do something you shouldn't have? Did your anger, however it was expressed, negatively affect a friendship, a relationship or someone you love?
Our anger can do something else. Not only can it hurt someone else, it can hurt us. Chloe negatively displayed her anger by trying to kick the ball. Did she hurt the ball? No. Did she hurt me? No. Did she hurt herself? Yes.
Anger, if improperly expressed, can not only hurt the people around us, it can end up hurting us worse than it hurts them.
Parrish Myers is pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church in Gainesville. His column runs every other week in Sunday Life.