I pushed down on the gas. I felt the need to move faster, though I was accelerating in a direction I didn’t want to go. I was driving into a mess partially against my will but responsibility and love told me I had to go and try to make things better. “Jesus, please help me be like You tonight. I’m upset. In fact, I’m pissed off, but I don’t want that to make anything worse. Please, give me the patience and the wisdom to do and say the right things tonight.”
I mumbled my prayer and other variations of it over and over, along the freeway, through stoplights, and eventually, down quiet little side streets. I pictured the mess in my head- imagined the tears, the yelling and the drunkenness that had happened yet again. In my mind, everyone was either crying or yelling. I kept telling myself that I was superimposing my own dramatic expression over the personalities involved. So far, this was all happening in my head.
I pulled up in front of the house, sighed and got out. I walked up to the steps and stepped through the front door to see almost everything I had imagined. Drunk people didn’t stop yelling as I sat my stuff down. Crying didn’t cease either. One of them stomped over to me and began to elaborate on the whole scene involving jobs lost, fights started and respect destroyed. While she was talking, another stumbled over to me and began adding his part of the story, which resulted in them yelling at each other. A third and fourth walked over and started making demands that I take their sides in fights that I hadn’t even heard of yet.
I just sat and listened. My blood pressure was rising and I nearly had to bite my tongue off while watching the chaos build. They all were belligerent. Some with alcohol, all with emotions. It was disgusting. Finally, one of the drunks decided that he was leaving. He grabbed his keys and stomped off toward the front door, yelling obscenities with each step.
That’s when I lost it.
“Get back here right now! You’re not going anywhere! The rest of you, sit down and shut up!” I know that I joke about being tough, but I don’t yell nearly as much as I’d like you all to believe.
The violent burst of words from the human they’d begged to come over and make things better caught a couple off guard. They sat in their spots. I jumped up from my seat, made my way over to the attempted deserter, took the keys and demanded that he sit down. What followed was a mess of lectures, raised voices, more tears and threats from everyone including myself. The entire time, I kept thinking, “Jesus, I asked to be more like you with this stupid situation. I yelled, was rude and didn’t look anything like you.”
I was feeling guilty. The night ended with all of us standing around the sink while I poured beers, wine and vodka down the drain. I couldn’t tell if it was just everyone drying up and beginning to feel hung over, or if they genuinely were repentant of what had gone on. I was exhausted and was beating myself up for losing my temper.
Driving home, I asked Jesus again, why I wasn’t like Him. I wanted to make things right, not be a grumpy ho about a bunch of people who were having a hard time keeping their crap together.
★ ★ ★
Jesus braided a whip. He chased people with it. The God-man turned tables over, scattered coins and scared a whole lot of humans. They were pissed at him and demanded that He explain why he felt like he had any authority to do it. He didn’t try to calm them down. He never asked nicely for them to take their belongings and leave. He just went at them, in a fury of righteous indignation (John 2:13-19)
Sometimes, being Christlike means being able to yell and be mean. I’m grateful for that.