Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Ten Minute Anger Rule

Before Tom and I were married (back in the days before sliced bread...heh...just kidding)... he and I made a peculiar pact. We agreed that following any argument, we would be free to stay mad at each other for ten minutes. So if we fought about something and then Tom left to go to work, each of us, separately, could allow ourselves ten 'luxury' minutes of staying angry.

After that, we had to Get Over It. And forgive.

Okay, I know, I know. To some of you, that sounds hilarious. But seriously? All these 27 years later, the Ten Minute Anger Rule has proved to be a Good Thing for us.

And no---I am not in any way implying that we've always kept that rule! I mean hey..this very week we broke it over the should-we-move-to-that-horrible-place? fiasco (which, by the way, is still not 100% settled, but at least there's peace between us again).

So what's the use of having a Ten Minute Anger Rule if it's going to be broken sometimes?

It becomes a goal. Something to aim toward. (If we aim toward nothing, then that is what we will hit--nothing.)

Because we've put a limit on our anger, in all these 27 years we've never gone through days of angry silence--poisonous days where anger regurgitates, coming back like a bronking bull when it started life as a yipping terrier. If we stay mad longer than ten minutes, then there's this feeling of cheating as each extra moment ticks by.

The ten minute rule allows us to vent our anger--give it a frisky little run around the block so that it doesn't feel all pent-up. Yet it's like leading something manageable on a leash. If you let Anger race free, he will bulldoze and topple your whole neighborhood.

And the ten minute goal means forgiveness arrives at our house faster. God can't step up to our door carrying His brand of healing if our home is still blazing in bright orange anger flames.

No, but He is great at arriving after Forgiveness begins the clean-up... when only tiny wisps of leftover smoke are nipping at our heels and on their way outside when God opens the door and releases healing like much-needed rain.

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