Don’t let the sun go down

Last Friday, a maintenance worker locked my seven year old daughter in the restroom at the beach. Fortunately I  happened to be standing right there and got her immediately unlocked (as well as another female patron who’d been trapped with her) and Kiddo#2 immediately forgot about it.

I, on the other hand, left the kids with my Patient Husband and said, “Excuse me, but I’m about to get someone fired.”

I wouldn’t really do that, but Momma Tiger was sharpening her fangs. She found the beach facilities director and informed him of the inadvisability of having a maintenance employee walk up to the restroom door and lock it without even shouting “Hey! Anyone in there?”

Momma Tiger was given a number for the chief of maintenance, who didn’t call back.

That night, exhausted, I took benadryl (allergies) I went to bed and proceeded not to fall asleep. After half an hour, I thought, “Okay, what’s up?” since as a mom of four, even without benadryl I usually fall unconscious with a speed that would make a narcoleptics gasp.

My guardian angel didn’t want me the sun to set on my anger.  Some people who know their stuff think that’s bad for your soul.

I pointed out that this wasn’t fair. I know that as a Christian, I’m ordered to forgive. But this wasn’t really a forgiveness situation. Because even I knew the maintenance worker wasn’t a monster. If anything, she appeared to be mentally handicapped. She’d probably been told, “Go lock the restrooms” by a supervisor who never thought to say “But check inside first to make sure no one is in there.”

The problem was, once I thought about it, I kept rehearsing what happened, thinking of ways it could have been worse. If I hadn’t been outside, I wouldn’t have known what had happened to Kiddo#2. If I’d been in with her, we’d both have been trapped. My Patient Husband, already at the car, wouldn’t have come looking for us.

And in response to all this, I kept realizing that no, none of these bad things had happened, so I needed to let them go. My guardian angel simply kept me awake. I said the words (“I forgive her, but that wasn’t the issue.”) I prayed for her. And I said, “Look, I’m still going to complain, but I’ll say I don’t want her disciplined. What I want is the procedure to be changed.”

I guess that was good enough, because once I did that, I slept like a rock.

The next day returned for a name/address higher up the food chain. The facilities director and I agreed the worker herself had meant no harm (and he did say she had some sort of mental challenge). I’ve now written an attention-getting letter which will promptly be round-filed.

But maybe the worker herself got startled enough that she won’t just blindly lock the doors again. And my guardian angel prevented the sun from going down on my anger.


  1. Ivy

    That sort of thing is why Christianity is too hard for me. I respect people who can live a Christian lifestyle, but to have simple anger proscribed at certain times is more than I can accomplish. Bless you.

    1. philangelus

      Well, practically speaking, what good does it do to be angry at night when you can’t do anything about it?

      1. Ivy

        It’s an emotion. It’s not something we have total control over. “Don’t eat shellfish”. Okay, I can do that. “Don’t feel this emotion”. Uh, how? Anger doesn’t do any good at any time. Ideally we should forever be calm and happy, no matter what life throws at us, and simply handle all of it. We’re not built that way.

        1. philangelus

          Anger is a warning sign that our boundaries have been violated. Once we’re aware that our boundaries have been violated, the anger no longer serves a purpose.

          (BTW, “mad” is a signal that “this is an unfair situation” and “frustrated” is a signal that someone is blocking us from achieving our goals. It’s important to determine what we’re feeling in order to decode the signals.)

          Forgiving is in part letting go of the anger. But once it’s served its purpose and we know we need to act, it’s better to do it with a clear head. I *understand* that. It’s hard to do sometimes.

          1. Ivy

            I don’t need an emotional warning sign that my boundaries are being violated–I have intellect enough for that. Anger is a feeling. To be commanded not to feel–like I said, I couldn’t do it. The whole idea feels so suffocating. Hey you! Quit having that emotion right now!

            You keep bringing the seder to mind. Rabbi Akiva has taught us that, if the Egyptians suffered ten plagues in Egypt, they suffered 50 plagues at the Red Sea because at the sea, each plague consisted of G-d’s fierce anger, fury, wrath, trouble, and a band of emissaries of evil. If anger, or fury, or wrath, are to be seen as wrong, then does the Hagaddah and the Talmud show an evil in G-d, as He expresses all of these? The bible is filled with G-d displaying a range of emotions, including anger. Certainly if anger is an emotion worthy even of G-d, then it is not wrong to feel it.

          2. philangelus

            God doesn’t nurture anger. Jesus was angry when he cleared the Temple of people who’d turned it into a flea market.

            The emotional signal gets our attention and lets us know we need to act. You may be intellectually evolved beyond that point, but the rest of us are on an animal template and we’re also relying on our emotional intelligence. 🙂

            Emotions, even the negative ones, are good. But we need not to nurture them to the detriment of our souls.

          3. Ivy

            Ah, there’s the trick. There is a difference between feeling anger and nurturing anger. I’m not talking about irritation here, but true anger.

            Let’s take Luke Skywalker as an example. He comes home to find the Empire has slaughtered his entire family. Let’s pretend it’s ten minutes until sunset when he first sees the burned out hull of his home.

            Well, his best bet is to process his feelings, however long that might take. He can channel the anger and use it to defeat the Empire, and that is a form of processing. The key point for this discussion is that it needs to run its course, and for a normal, healthy person, that will take time.

            If he decided to just bury all of that alive in the next ten minutes, it would claw its way right back out in unhealthy ways. That kind of anger denied might have destroyed him.

            If he lingered on it, trying to work up more anger, that’s also self-destructive (in the Star Wars universe it’s the path to the dark side, but in our world it’s still to our detriment).

            You clearly know, without an emotional component, where boundaries are, otherwise you couldn’t invent situations of them being violated whole cloth for stories.

          4. philangelus

            Luke makes a cool-headed, grieving decision to fight the Empire at ObiWan’s side. He doesn’t run off half-cocked *YET* to fire blindly at everyone and everything and go after Vader.

            When he does do that at the end of Empire, it’s a bad scene. But when he sees his aunt and uncle’s deaths, he allows that to galvanize him into effective action.

            Anger: I need to do something about the Empire.
            Thought: How is the most effective way to do that?
            Resolution: Go with ObiWan, rescue the Princess, learn as much as I can.

          5. Ivy

            He doesn’t run off half-cocked, but he clearly feels a whole host of emotions–anger and grief being the topmost. He doesn’t banish them or bury them alive. He channels them. Then he channels his anger and grief at Obi-Wan’s death. Using those feelings is the opposite of dismissing them. There is no doubt he’s pissed when he blows up the Death Star with a full crew aboard.

          6. Ivy

            Oh, and that still doesn’t answer the question. Were Luke to arrive at the destroyed farm five minutes to sunset, should his response be, in effect: “Uncle Owen! Aunt Beru! Uncle Owen? It was the Empire. They… Okay, I have to calm down. I have five minutes to forgive the Empire for slaughtering Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru and be completely free of anger towards them.”

  2. christopher

    Excellent post and points! Never do or say anything when you’re emotions are up. It is inevitably, almost always, most likely, 99 times out of 100, going to be a mistake and you’ll spend many more anguished hours over your own doings than you ever did on the event/topic/person. It’s not always possible, I know, to do this because of the imperfect nature of our humanity but it’s the way prescribed by countless saints (although we can all point to a few hot-heads that have made it into heaven too!). I’ve especially found this to be beneficial in my internet posting too, no comments or posts about anything that’s peaked my emotions until well after they’ve subsided. By then, I usually don’t feel I have anything to say on the matter anymore. Boring? Maybe. But it’s better than scandalous, uncharitable, or rude. Again, great post, thanks!

    1. philangelus

      I think my typical modus operandi would be scandalous, uncharitable and rude, actually. 🙂

      Emotions being up is a good state for deciding TO take action. But it’s better to think a bit, in my case, before acting. When I first went to find the facilities director, I really was thinking, “Someone needs to be fired. Or at least horsewhipped.” By the next day, it was, “Management needs to outline better procedures, and after examining the setup of the restroom entrance, I’ve come up with a solution.”

      Which is more likely to get a good response on the part of the director? 🙂

      1. christopher

        “I think my typical modus operandi would be scandalous, uncharitable and rude, actually.” – haven’t seen that from you, ma’am, else I wouldn’t stay too long!

        Cooler heads almost always prevail, and if they don’t, then at least you’ve still got a cool head…

        1. philangelus

          I should probably quote the Tick here. “You made my head hot! But you won’t make my friend’s heads hot!”

          I have a hard time not shooting off my mouth. The grace of God keeps me from being too obnoxious. As that prayer goes, “Dear Jesus, keep your arm over my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.” 🙂

          1. jaed

            The Tick quotes now? More geekiness! Soon this blog may be retitled “The Catholic Geek”. 😉

            Seriously, who installs a lock on a restroom door that can’t be opened from the inside? I’m not so sure your initial thought about horsewhipping was wrong, although perhaps directed at the wrong person….

          2. cricketB

            I think Jaed’s right. Ontario building code insists all outer doors of public buildings open outwards and the car rules require latches in case someone’s locked in the trunk. More ammunition, should you want it.

  3. christopher

    LOL Haven’t heard that prayer before! Odd you should mention the Tick, somebody was quoting Tick lines to me two days ago…

    1. philangelus

      According to Wendy, all cool people quote The Tick.

  4. Jason Block

    I am of the opinion that anger is a necessary emotion. And as for me, sometimes I do not forgive. My mother said these toxic words, “You will never amount to anything in your life.” Should I forgive her? Heck, no. In fact, the anger that flickers inside me every day for those words is tempered every time I am on TV(most recently a week ago). People love me. Excuse the minor ego stroke LOL

    You even quoted Ephesians here. I dont believe in 4:27 that anger allows the devil in. Anger can be channeled into a positive emotion.

    And as for me, I would have gotten the person fired. Momma Tiger needed to show her claws. That was righteous anger.

    1. Ivy

      Proof I’m addicted to Ravelry–I was looking for the “Agree” button.

      Anger doesn’t allow the devil in. Crushing your own feelings, being ashamed of, or resenting, perfectly normal human emotions, that crushes your soul. The Mishnah teaches us that anger has a place, only warning that our actions, stemming from anger, must be tempered with reason, which is pretty much what Christopher said above.

  5. Jason Block

    To continue on, what you are doing is incredibly dangerous on three levels. You stated, “I know that as a Christian, I’m ORDERED to forgive.”
    Please do not take this as an attack on your faith, but the consequences of bottling up anger.

    a) Studies have shown that not letting out anger has led to higher blood pressure, stroke, and stress levels.

    b) It is perfectly ok to lash out in anger. In fact, the situation described would be the perfect example of where anger would be not only ok, but a GOOD thing. She should have been fired, because she threatened Kiddo #2. She put Kiddo #2 in danger. Doesn’t that make you mad?

    c) Feelings, as stated by Ivy and others, are not things you can turn off like a light bulb. What are you afraid of? Are you worried that you are showing a bad example to Kiddo #1? It is OK to be angry. What can’t you see about that?