How Long Should I Stay Mad?
By John O'Leary. This was originally posted on JohnOLearyInspires.com. When John O'Leary was 9 years old, he suffered burns over 100% of his body and was expected to die. He is now an inspirational speaker and bestselling author, teaching more than 50,000 people around the world each year how to live inspired. John's first book, ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was published March 15, 2016. John is a contributing writer for Huff Post and Parade.com. John is a proud husband and father of four and resides in St. Louis, MO. Order John’s book today anywhere books are sold.
How long should I stay mad?
Don’t know about you, but I ask myself this question with far more frequency than I’d like to admit.
It’s likely one you’ve wrestled with, too. Perhaps after a friend let you down, a coworker missed an important deadline, a child disobeyed, or a petty fight erupted with a family member. And with the added stress of the approaching holidays, we’ll likely have additional occasions of being somehow slighted, offended, or let down.
So, let me ask again, how long should we stay mad?
This was a question Walter Wangerin had to answer, too.
He shares vulnerably in his book Ragman: And Other Cries of Faith, that he and his wife had frequent disagreements when they were first married. Hot-tempered and prideful, his coping strategy in those early days was to storm out of the apartment, slam the door and walk it off.
Well, on one such occasion after a small disagreement, Walter angrily turned away from his wife, grabbed his jacket, put it on, stormed outside and slammed the door shut. Only to realize his coat was stuck in the doorjamb.
It was a frigid evening and pouring outside. The door was locked. He was trapped.
With the steady rain falling, Walter had just two choices.
He could take off the coat, leave it in the doorway and walk into the frigid rain without a jacket.
Or he could simply humble himself, ring the doorbell, have his wife open the door and be released from the prison.
What would you do?
Let humor, love, care, empathy – whatever connects you – be the bridge to forgiveness now.
Walter rang the bell. His wife approached, looked out the window, and understood what happened. She saw her husband in the rain, soaked and stuck. The angry frown still present from their earlier fight dissolved into a gentle smile on her face. As she stepped closer, her smile grew in size, she began laughing, opened the door, lovingly grinned at her husband and invited him back in.
And like that, the fight was over.
The door was open and he was free to step out of the rain, into their apartment and back into relationship with his bride. It was that easy.
But Walter, still upset, did what I think many of us would have done. He refused. He hadn’t proved his point clearly enough. He wasn’t done being mad. He wrote,
“In that moment, I could simply have laughed with her. And humor would have provided the bridge to reconciliation.
But I refused to do so.
I gathered up my coat.
And I walked off into the rainy evening.
A prisoner of my own refusal to laugh.”
My friends, how long should you stay mad?
I must admit that in my life, and perhaps you’ve found in yours, that even with the door open and the bridge of reconciliation available, I tug on my jacket, turn around in anger, and walk into the cold rain by myself.
But going forward, let’s determine to let go of our ego.
Let’s choose to ring the bell, meet their smile with ours, and come back into the house.
Let’s set down the poison, reenter relationship, and realize the gift of doing life, together.
This is your day. Live Inspired.
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