“Hey Landon, you want to fight?”
“Should we have any rules?”
“What about biting?”
“Well, maybe not biting”
This I overheard when I was the 16 year old foreman of a crew of twelve young people working at a Sporting Clay event, which is like golf with shotguns. I was showing everyone their duties and from the tower beyond my friends Brian and Landon, I overheard this strangest of conversations.
It was not difficult to see that Brian was in a bit of a mood when he showed up for work, which was far less acceptable when I was younger than it is now. Being in a poor mood wasn’t exactly smiled upon in the Kope home because dad wasn’t big on the idea of being a victim. If he was he would have quit his life by the time he was seven, and dad wasn’t into quitting much.
I poked my head around the side of the tower opening where the clay pigeons would be fired from and watched in amazement as my two friends rolled around on the ground punching and kicking each other, employing every technique of a street fight without the biting!
It was so weird to watch. Now Landon was a great brute of a farm kid and spent his summers repairing his snowmobiles and his winters crashing them, so lasting damage probable wasn’t a huge deal to him. He once raced a school bus in the ditch and was winning until he hit a road approach, also he was probably legally blind and immune to pain which lent him courage.
As years went by I’ve kept up a little with Brian’s story. There’s no other way to describe it outside of a tragedy. He grew up in a very decent home but there was always a seed of anger that never quite came into the open to be dealt with. His life has been a disaster for a couple of decades now, and I’ve been wondering for years how it could have been avoided.
“Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads.
Bad temper is contagious — don’t get infected” Proverbs 22:24-25
“A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out” Proverbs 25:28
I’ve come to a firm belief that no one really wins in a street fight, and anger is what removes the rules we play by in a fight.
Ie: If you held yourself 100% accountable for every word and action in an argument with brutal self honesty, I’ll bet the humility required would keep you out of the next street fight.
What if you actually apologized for rolling your eyes and called it disrespect?
What if you actually stopped snorting like a horse when someone disagrees with you?
What if we actually apologized for acting like two year olds?
“But I have the right to be angry!”
DO you? I realized one day Every regret I’ve ever had in an argument was because I ALLOWED MYSELF A REASON TO BE ANGRY.
“But shouldn’t we be angry about some things?”
Absolutely. Injustice, poverty, abuse. Just not about things we want. That’s what knocks the windows and doors out of your house so everyone can see and hear every two year old emotion that escapes from inside. We tell ourselves that everything we feel is legitimate?! How ridiculous is this?
Being hurt is one thing. Getting angry is a choice. Never EVER confuse the two. Using hurt to fuel anger will likely make you do more harm than was done to you in the first place. It will make you like the person who hurt you.
Now to be fair, my mom is Irish and I may have inherited a bit of, shall we say impatience from her side? Let’s put it this way: when you hear someone say “You know who’s a really patient person?” The name Corey doesn’t follow.
My dad was and is a patient man. So many of the life lessons missing in most people’s story he filled in for me. My dad taught me about self control and anger, and did a terrific job.
He also told me how to combat anger.
I’ve realized that most people don’t know how to deal with anger. Oh, we know that anger is a secondary emotion and hurt is normally underneath it all etc etc, but anger has a twin sister with the same motto called Self Pity.
“You don’t know what happened to me as a child!” That is true, and I’ll bet it was awful. I’m wondering how long you want to use that excuse to hurt the people around you? I’ll also bet you wish the people who hurt you as a child had dealt with their issues before you came on the scene? There was hurt in their backstory too. We all have pain, but we don’t all grow up to be jerks!
My dad gave me a painful secret: He taught me how to apologize RIGHT.
“I’m sorry” had to be followed with everything I should be sorry for, including things like EVERYTHING.
“I’m sorry” was never followed with a “But you…” because that’s a garbage apology.
“I’m sorry” was never followed with a “But I didn’t really mean it” because that’s a garbage apology. Of course you meant it and were cruel! That’s why you did it. Duh.
It was followed with this thing called a PLAN for not being a jerk again.
We teach our girls to apologize for what they did and how they did it. We are hard on their bad attitudes and make them sweat an apology because we don’t want it to be too easy. They get to march right up to their sisters while they’re still a bit angry and tell them exactly how they wronged them.
It’s about the only thing I can think of that brings anger’s arch nemesis humility to the fight.
It’s hard to fly off the handle when you know how hard a good apology can be…