“For example, when I have hurt someone’s feelings in my family, my first internal response is to try to justify myself. If that doesn’t work, I then try to bury the incident and pacify the person, perhaps doing something nice to make the person forget my thoughtless or abusive behavior.”
– J. Keith Miller, A Hunger For Healing
My family and I just got back to town after a week-long vacation and during our trip I caught myself doing exactly what Miller describes above.
We had rented a boat and oars and were paddling around a small lake trying to fish. My two-year-old son became restless after a short time and began yelling, stomping in the boat, and generally acting his age. I cannot say the same for myself. The idyllic afternoon paddle and fishing trip was on the line, and I could not stomach the idea of not getting to do what I wanted to do. So I threw my own fit, yelled at my son, commanded my wife to get him under control, and whined that the day was ruined.
Anger. Over-reaction. Emotional manipulation. Controlling behavior. Guilt. Shame.
Later, when I realized my fault, what did I do? I apologized, with the caveat that it was really my son’s fault I was angry. If he had not acted like a toddler (shocking behavior for a two-year old!) my day would not have been ruined and I would not have have lost my temper. And, just as Miller describes above, I tried to be very sweet to my wife for the rest of the day to make her forget the way I had hurt her.
More manipulation and control.
Praise God that He is merciful even to sinners like me.