Ever have a sippy cup thrown on the floor by your toddler and it roll under the seat? Heaven forbid it was full of milk on a hot summer day. It's happened to me. After a few days, the milk start to rot. Them the car smells like someone has died in it. It is foul and I'm desperate to take apart the entire car only to find the milk rotten sippy cup under the seat, spilled on the carpet.
Sound familiar? Hopefully not.
Like that sippy cup sometimes it is easier to let problems roll under the seat, unseen, undetected. We drive on without even realizing that the bitterness, annoyance, frustration is brewing in that cup. We pretend that everything is fine, but eventually the stench comes.
I know that is why God reminds me of the sippy cup whenever I am tempted to let my anger, annoyance, and frustration sit. Paul tells the church in Ephesians 4:26-27
“In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."
I don't think the warning is an actual timeline to how long I should let these feeling sit but it is a warning to deal with it as soon as I am in my right mind again.
DON'T LET IT SIT
How do I not let our anger sit and turn into bitterness? By acknowledging when the cup falls. I red flag that moment when people start to get under my skin. Red flag that thought that enters my mind, the one that wants to talk bad about another person. Red flag that thought that justifies my anger, bitterness, and annoyance.
THROW IT AWAY
When the cup has fallen and I let it sit, it's time to throw it away. Time to give it to God.
I turn the red flags into prayers. Prayers of blessings and forgiveness.
Like the time when my sister was bugging me with all the wedding to dos, I got frustrated and I could feel myself boiling. RED FLAG. I hate getting annoyed with her because this is HER TIME and I want her to enjoy it.... So I prayed,
"Lord, bless my sister. She is driving me crazy with her perfectionism but help me to I love her and do the things I can do without complaining. I pray that she has the wedding of her dreams. Help her to enjoy every single moment."
What about people who deeply hurt you.... Who you consider an enemy? Well Jesus has something to say about that in Matthew 5:43-44
I'm convinced Jesus tell us this because you can't hate someone you are praying for and blessing. It is so insanely hard to pray for someone you're mad it but it works. The Bible's truth doesn't fail. I've turned long time perceived "enemies" into cordial friends this way. I started blessing them and you know what happened? They didn't miraculously change, but my heart towards them did. The prayers sounded something like this.
"God, you love _______. Help me to love him/her the way you love them. He or she is ____________ [list all of their good traits, and yes they have some in there]. Then begin to bless them. Bless their home, relationship, work, finances.
When Jesus was on the cross he said, Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing [Luke 23:34]. There are times when people hurt us they don't realize the magnitude of the offense. They don't see that their words [or lack of], their actions have cut deep into our souls. Jesus is setting an example. Even if that person doesn't acknowledge how they have hurt you or apologize, God is still telling you to forgive fully. To continually turn those red flag thoughts and feelings into prayers.
LEARN YOUR LESSON
That sippy cup reminds me not to let my anger and bitterness towards another person sit. In some situations it has caused me to draw back and set up boundaries. Sometimes the relationship can be repaired. Either way, I know I've forgiven when I can look at that person that hurt me or annoys me with love. There isn't the stench of rotten milk of curses and accusations. I want to see them the way God does and be able to bless them.
Be angry... YES! Be frustrated, cry, pity yourself.... YES! But I'm learning not to let my anger sit too long because the first person it hurts is me.