Proverbs 14:29 "A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly."
As part of my job when I worked in Ohio, I used to teach customer service skills. There's something we taught called a "hook." A "hook" is something that invites you into unproductive behavior. Simply put, it's the breaking point that makes you lose your temper. I have a few hooks that I know of. Do you know yours? Knowing and identifying your own hooks is sometimes half the anger battle. Once you know what makes you angry, it's a lot easier to give it over to the Lord.
Many of you know about my son Jacob and some of his struggles and special needs. Jacob has Asperger's Syndrome and severe ADHD, but about five years ago, we found out that he had a lot of bio-chemical issues as well. Some of these bio-chemical problems manifested themself as bi-polar symptoms, and for years, Jacob experienced uncontrollable rage. Jacob will turn twelve in a few days, and he has a sensitive heart for the Lord now. He has given me permission to share his story with the Groupies4God and on my blog, specifically a story about one of Jacob's hooks.
Let me give you a little history. By the time Jacob was about three or four, we knew we had a strong-willed child on our hands. Both my husband and I worked full time, so we had to rely on pre-schools and day cares for our child care. For a while, we had a great friend in our church care for our kids, but we ended up needing to move to the daycare route. It didn't take long for us to be on speed dial with the daycare; in actuality, they had us on speed dial. I can remember day after day seeing the phone ring with the caller ID identifying the caller as the daycare. My heart would drop each time. Not again! What did he do now? The truth is that by the time Jacob turned five, he was kicked out of every day care in our city and a few in the surrounding cities. One of those was after a few short hours!
You see, Jacob had a real problem with anger. It was as if something wouldn't settle with him, a swtich would be flipped, and a boy I didn't know would emerge. There was no rhyme or reason to his rage, and as a result, he was given a bi-polar diagnosis, at a much too early age.
A daily phone call was expected from the day care, and at least three times a week, things would get so bad that we would have to pick him up. My husband and I took turns leaving work early to deal with the problems, and this time it was his turn. "Come pick Jacob up, please, asap." No explanation given; none requested. We knew the drill. I could tell the infraction was pretty severe, based on the curtness of the call I received. When my husband Frank arrived to pick Jacob up, he got the whole story.
The daycare was one of those that served also as a pre-school. They served lunch to a the kids on one of those expandable lunch tables with the seats attached. All of the children were seated at the table, food on the trays, and getting ready to eat. The teacher then put Jacob's tray in front of him. It consisted of a burger, a side item, and one infamous pickle. You see, when Jacob was served his tray, that switch in his brain flipped. He promptly got up on top of the table, ran up and down the table-top, kicking every child's food on the floor and all over the rest of the kids. By the time the teacher caught him, it was too late. The damage was done, with lunch for the entire class ruined.
My husband got Jacob in the car, and started to talk to him. I'm so thankful for a mild-mannered husband who almost never loses his temper. The Lord knew I needed him, and the Lord knew Jacob needed a daddy who didn't lose his temper; one who always showed unconditional love. If I had been the one to pick Jacob up that day, well, I don't know how I would have reacted, but I know it would not have been in a Godly way! "Son, what were you thinking?" Frank asked. Jacob's response, "They put a pickle on my plate, and you know I don't like pickles!"
A pickle. That's all it took. It was the pickle that has everlasting meaning in our home. These days, we often joke around with Jacob and ask him if he wants a pickle with his food. He isn't the best with kidding around, but he knows we ask that question in jest. His answer always remains the same: a firm "No!"
When Jacob was in first grade, he was kicked out of public elementary school and put in what is called the BAU - Behavior Adjustment Unit. That's where they put the 12 worst kids in the district. You see, they tried to work with us, they really did. In first grade, Jacob went through about six teachers, including two "Teachers of the Year", one of which was the Special Ed "Teacher of the Year" for the district. But the day Jacob sent one of them to the hospital was probably the breaking point.
Shortly after Jacob was put in the BAU, we found a non profit clinic outside of Chicago, IL, called the Pfeiffer Treatment Center. Jacob had been to neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatricians, and any other kind of doctor that we thought would help. But the Pfeiffer Treatment Center did bio-chemical testing that none of these other doctors had ever attempted. They found that Jacob was actually not bi-polar, although he had many of the symptoms. No, in actuality, he had an overgrowth of yeast in his system that was literally taking over his whole body. Within a few days of being on the medicine, Jacob's rage was nearly gone. The BAU teacher (who was initially skeptical of the findings) called us up and asked what changes we had made. She could not believe her eyes. The boy who just days before had caused an evacuation of the entire BAU was now the star student. We believe God directed us to PTC to save Jacob's life. No, not save it spiritually, but physically. Today, Jacob is in the 6th grade, and in the Gifted and Talented program and doing awesome!
Hooks. Jacob's hook at the daycare that day was a pickle. I think I've mentioned previously that I used to have a terrible temper. It's amazing how when you commit something to the Lord, He can miraculously take away the sin. But just like the verse from last week, it's important to continue to identify and do a self examination of sin in your life. You see, I've found that when I let my guard down, my hooks return, and with a vengeance. I don't try to lose my temper, no one does.
Back to the verse. "A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly."
When things don't go as planned, when my hooks manifest themselves, am I patient? Or like the pickle on the plate, do I respond with a quick temper, resulting in folly?
Take some time to identify what your hooks are. Now think about how you can respond to those times with patience instead of being quick to become angry. The verse this week is a good reminder to me on how to react when "there's a pickle on my plate."
PS - If you want more information on the Pfeiffer Treatment Center, click on the link on the left of my blog entitled "Jacob's Journey."