Something I want you to practice in 2018:

Ask before anger.

I spent years bubbling with quiet resentment (which occasionally boiled over into a noisy fury) because certain behaviors from people I loved or worked with didn’t occur “in the wild” — without prompting or practice.

Why didn’t my husband care about this? Why didn’t my family or friends see what I needed? Why didn’t my boss or co-worker know that this was driving me crazy?

Why couldn’t they be exactly like me?

Ah.

When I phrased it that way, I sounded silly and prideful. But that was actually what my resentment expected from everyone around me: a mirror reflecting all my values and desires instead of a window to see more of the way God works in the world.

The first step forward from this mental mess?

Choose to ask before you choose your anger.

Ask clearly. Ask kindly. Ask with a simple reason why. Ask willing to give something in return.

We can’t emotionally convict someone on testimony that’s only been given inside the court of our own minds. Asking for what we want lets the air out of our swollen resentment and takes the burden off of our shoulders. Asking starts our minds down a path of solving your problem instead of stewing about it.

Asking empowers us; anger eventually implodes us.

We may get what we want. We may not. (And from there, we have three positive soul-shaping options: surrender our will, change our tactics/seek a different solution, or ask God to be for us what others can never be.)

But we begin with asking, because asking is honesty — with ourselves and with our world. And, in the end, it’s always the truth that sets us free.

If you want more joy, you have to plan for it.

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