It was the final inning of the game and we were down by 2 runs. It was a hard fought battle – they were hitters, and the umpire seemed to be against us. We had two boys on base, and our “manchild” was up – he could hit homeruns into the next county. We were wound tight – this is it! And the pitch – high and inside – grazed the hand of our player leaving a cut and bruise. He winced, and started for first base. The umpire yells, “Where you goin’?!” and our guy replied, “It hit me.”
“No, son, it hit the bat. That’s a foul ball.” replied the ump. We came unglued. Chief comes out of the dugout to protest. Our side erupts in shouts. The umpire refuses to budge. “I heard it hit the bat,” he argues. He refuses to even look at the player’s hand. And all of a sudden – I couldn’t see. The Inner Grizzly emerged with a gutteral cry that came from where last Friday’s dinner was being digested. “HE HIT HIS HAND! HE HIT HIS HAND! HE HIT HIS HAND!”
The field was a blur, but I could still hear. And what I heard was, “Shut up and sit down before you get us tossed!” I whirled around and don’t remember what came from my mouth, but lost all control. She came back with another verbal blow to the gut. A sheet of red hot anger flashed before my eyes, when my girls intervened and I slowly sat down. And then, “You got somethin’ to say to me?! BRING IT!” Another wave of wrath shook me and I could feel my fists tighten. From the left I heard, “MOM! BETTER PERSON!” and it brought me back. I closed my mouth, shaking. At that point, I knew both the argument and the game were over. But the guilt started in…
How could a forty-something cop wife who had raised four kids, who’d written a book that talks about gratitude, patience, and self-control, just about come to blows at the call of an ump? I know better… I haven’t been like this since high school… I thought being a woman of faith and prayer was above this ghetto-like temptation? I’ve embarrassed my kids… I’m a fool… And on and on.
Have you been there?
Anger is a sleeping lion, crouching just beneath the surface, ready to devour those who dare to deny it’s existence. Just when we think we could never go there, we find ourselves wrapped in shame, picking up shell casings left by the verbal shootout. We must understand where the anger comes from, and what triggers it.
My triggers were fear, a sense of injustice, and then unkindness. I saw my boys’ hope of winning sectionals slipping through the fingers of the man in blue – fear. And then I witnessed Chief in a rare moment of strong protest and I felt like the umpire had truly been paid by the other team – injustice. And the final insult – unkindness. I wanted to rewind time. I wanted what my boys wanted. I wanted…
What are your triggers? What really makes you mad? We have to look at it, ugly as it is, and define it. Prepare for it. And if anger rares its ugly head, we must deal with its damage.
That night I apologized to my family. I laid justification aside and realized my anger got the best of me. I allowed myself to feel the embarrassment. For a time. But then, when the other mom reached out to me about the incident, I forgave her, apologized for my actions, and now feel at peace. We’re ready to move beyond the carnage, choosing to get along for the sake of our families and friends.
There will always be arguments in our lives. With our spouses, with our kids, our in-laws – the list goes on. Anger is an unfortunate reality, but it also shows we care deeply.