Chocolate Milk and Anger

by - November 15, 2016

I was upstairs scrubbing my jawline with acne cleanser (thank you, mid-30s hormones and anxiety for bad skin), and I'm listening to the boys making their chocolate milk. They've learned to dump instant breakfast packets in a glass, pour the milk and stir. It's their favorite drink (favorite breakfast as well) and it was a big deal that the youngest earned permission to make his own. They do it on their own most mornings.

I overheard angry accusations that the oldest used up the last of the milk. I had bought two new gallons the day before, but it's hard for the youngest to take the seal off and pour a new jug without spilling.

There were sounds of tussling followed by the impact of a glass on the table and then "MOOOOOOOOOOMMM!"

I lost my shit.

"Clean it ALL UP! You guys are such jerks to each other!" I knew this wasn't just an accidental spill.

I lorded over the cleaning process demanding not a drop of chocolate milk should touch the floor voicing my disappointment in a steady barrage of words intended to prick little hearts. I chucked the dry things over into the living room and rinsed off the dripping Lego blocks and the bagged warranty for the new leaf blower (high-five to the Ace Hardware lady who put that in a zip-loc), all while yelling at them about each following action that set my fires ablaze - tug of war over who moved the trashcan next to the table, stand-off over who would clean up the last of the soaked bits from the hundred pieces of sticky notes they had just torn up all over the table this morning.

"Why did you call us stupid?"

"I didn't call you stupid. I called you jerks. Jerks are people who only think about themselves. You guys showed unkindness towards each other. I want you to think about what you could have done to be kinder and helpful to each other."

I bagged up the remaining packets of instant breakfast and declared a ban on chocolate milk for the next month.

In the car, they were quiet. It was heavy. We'd all been our ugliest.

"You are two of my most favorite people in the world, and it makes me so sad when you hate each other."

Silence. Usually there are arguments of defense.

"You chose to show hate. I don't think that's the love that Jesus put in your hearts."

"You know, I don't care so much about the mess as I care about how you felt about each other in your hearts. Messes can be cleaned, but hate that isn't given to Jesus will only grow. I think you should apologize for the unkindness, because you are both responsible for that."

It was delayed, but the reconciliation came.

"I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry."

"I really appreciate you apologizing. I'm sorry I yelled so loudly."

They are now at school, and I'm still not proud of myself. It's been a long week coming off one of the ugliest political battles I've ever witnessed, and I think my heart has been heavily burdened as I watch the world around me --  the words and attitudes, the anger and hurt, the sadness and disappointment, the gloating, the fear, the fights, the accusations, the apathy, the unknown ... I mean it's just all swirling.

And then I see in my own boys that the intensity of everything the adults are feeling over adult things are felt by them over a glass of chocolate milk. Chocolate milk and anger - in the abundance of blessing and privilege, efforts to undermine the other.

Lord, take our hate and replace it with Love.
Isaiah 53:4-6
Surely he took up our pain
   and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
   stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
   and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
   each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all.

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