Pa’s Enduring Lesson on Anger
They’ve both been gone for nearly half a century.
I was seven and ten, respectively when my paternal great-grandparents died.
We called them Pa and Doten, and they were center of our family’s solar system.
They each left an enduring lesson that still reverberates in my heart.
As I pass each of these two brief stories on to you, I feel as if they’re alive again.
Their influence sure is.
Like the nighttime stars that astronomers assure us burned out millennia ago, the wisdom of our ancestors lives on.
In this chapter, I’m sharing an enduring lesson modeled by my great-grandfather
Frank Iles, or as we called him “Pa” was a teacher. In his later years, he taught me a lesson I’m still learning.
I was his oldest greatest-grandchild.
Son of his oldest grandchild.
I was probably about seven or eight years old, playing in the front yard of our beloved Old House in Dry Creek.
Pa was on the front porch reading a Zane Grey western.
Something made me mad and I threw a fit in full view of my great-grandfather.
Most folks with a short history with me are surprised to hear I have a fierce temper.
They never saw me coach.
It’s something I’ve had to work on all of my life.
Most of all, it’s something the Lord has “worked on me.”
Or maybe He’s “worked in me.”
That long ago day in Dry Creek is when I believe the Lord began smoothing off my rough-edged temper.
As I finished my tantrum, “Pa” called me over, set down his book, and adjusted his green reading visor. “Son, I’ve been around young people all of my life. I can see you’ve got a strong temper. You’ll need to work on that or it’ll rule your life.”
That was it.
I’m sure I returned to playing.
He probably wondered if this young Iles had heard a word of it.
Pa, I’m sixty-two now and I still remember your words.
Because you were so loved in our family, I respected anything you said.
I listened and I learned.
In fact, I’m still learning. Thank you for your enduring wisdom.
I now wish to pass this along to my grandchildren: self-control is the ability to react coolly and calmly to any situation. To fly off in anger toward others will result in a trail of broken relationships. Words spoken in anger are often regretted later and seldom come out right.
When anger strikes, it’s best to walk away and give yourself some space and minutes (or even hours) to calmly look at the situation. This is especially true in a working marriage. Many times I’ve been angry with my wife but found the grace to walk away and go outside or take a walk.
It’s amazing that I nearly always realize I’m the source of the problem. I return later to DeDe and instead of having said angry words earlier, I start with, “You know, I was wrong …”
It’s amazing at how this changes an angry tirade into a chance to grow and learn.
Anger has its place in life, but it should never be used as a weapon. The mature man (or woman) will control and channel the anger to produce something productive. Many of the greatest events in our history began with someone becoming angry at some injustice or wrong.
But it was a slow-burning anger that didn’t attack individuals, but rather went after the real problem.
Pineywoods men will become angry. The mature ones control it, pray over it, and channel that anger in the direction it can do the most good.
Or a Pineywoods man will also, after he’s cooled off, say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.”
That takes a real man to speak those words.
A strong Pineywoods kind of man.
“Am I the kind of man
That you think is strong,
But stand up in a crowd
And say “I was wrong.”
-“Am I the Kind of Man” Toy Caldwell/Marshall Tucker Band