What Turns You into a Screeching Tea Kettle

Once when my mom questioned me about a fight I had gotten into with my sibling, I blurted out the classic excuse. “They made me so mad.”

If you have been alive for very long, you have either heard this excuse or used it. Because it is the classic point-the-finger-at-the-other-person excuse. The I-am-innocent-and-they-are-guilty excuse. The it-is-their-fault excuse.

I remember my mom saying, “No one makes you mad, Theresa. You allowed yourself to get mad.

Needless to say, I was a little disappointed that my excuse didn’t work.

I didn’t want to hear about and admit my own responsibility in the situation, I wanted my sibling fairly tried and executed. Or at least disciplined.

The blaming others for our own behavior or actions has been around since almost day 4. Okay, we don’t know what day it was, but it was sometime after Eve was created from some of Adam’s parts, which had to be after at least the second day.

I am sure Adam was surprised it didn’t work when he pointed out it was Eve’s fault and God didn’t buy it. Just like Eve was disappointed when her pointing to the snake didn’t work.  Just like I was surprised my pointing to someone else didn’t work.

If you are like me, you sometimes find yourself getting frustrated with one to many interruptions.  People repeatedly calling ‘Mom.’ Some unplanned surprise in your day (we are talking about the kind you don’t want, not the kind you want, like discovering a chocolate bar that you hid in your underwear drawer a month ago). One to many requests on your time. Or one more child questioning your authority. All this make you feel about to explode into millions of little bits.

Or maybe the scenario is different, but the end result is you feel like a tea kettle about to scream a piercing whistle of warning to all who are within a four-block radius.

Whatever the scenario, you feel like blurting out, “You are making me so . . . (fill in the blank with the best word—mad, frustrated, inadequate, worthless, ashamed, overwhelmed, irritated, etc.). And we are not talking about saying this in a voice that uses a library appropriate voice, but a stop the traffic on a busy road kind of voice and tone.

Now I didn’t not want to hear my mom lecture me on how I was in charge of my anger and that no one could make me angry without me allowing them to make me angry. No, I wanted her sympathy.

And the first time I told my child that so-and-so did not make them angry, that they were in charge of their own emotions and they had allowed so-and-so to make them angry, I am sure it did not set well with them either.

Funny how history repeats itself.

I didn’t really understand what my mom was telling me that day. All I heard was, “It is your fault, Theresa,” when I wanted sympathy. Along with fairness and swift justice for the accused party.

And I am sure my child did not want to hear me say that no one (or in many cases, no inanimate object, like a printer or pencil sharpener) can make us mad. That we allow our self to get mad.

But as I calmed down and grew in years, I began to see that she was right. No one can make me do anything. In each case I allow myself to do it.

Yes, the other person, situation, or inanimate object may be the pea under the mattress irritating me, or should I say the ‘cause,’ but I am the one who is in charge of the ‘effect,’ or my reaction.

I cannot control the cause, but I can control the effect (my reaction and response).

I can’t change them, the inanimate object, the day, or whatever is causing me to lose my equilibrium. But I can change my response, my thoughts, my expectations, my actions.

And this my friend, is good news. We are not puppets being controlled by others and their actions, we control ourselves.

We get to decide how we will respond, react, and behave.

Whatever turns us into a screeching tea pot is not in control. We are.

We may be tempted, but we are still in control of our response.

The beauty is, if we mess up, then we are also in charge of turning our attitude and actions around. We don’t have to wait on someone else to make us happy. We don’t have to wait for a new day. We don’t need to wait until the weather in our neighborhood changes. We are in charge of the end results. The direction we ae going.

We decide to make the U-turn. When and where, is up to us.

Because just as no one can make us mad, no one can make us happy. Or put us in a good mood.

We are not dependent on the whims of others or the feelings of others toward us.

We get to choose our own attitude. We get to take responsibility for our own choices.

Which means anytime we feel ourselves heading the wrong way, or going down the wrong path, we can turn ourselves around. We can repent. Receive the gifts of grace and love that are always waiting for us, and get back on track and continue on.

We are on a journey of learning. Discovering. Of overcoming. Of good winning evil. Of his love triumphing.

We don’t need to wallow in guilt and shame, but instead learn from the situation and walk in the freedom that God provides.

Some more good news is that we are not alone on this journey. God and his spirit accompany us, helping us, giving direction. Providing love and encouragement. Grace and help.

But it is still up to us. No one makes us do anything. We are in charge of our responses and reactions.

I can’t change the situation or demands or irritations, but I can choose my reaction.

I can choose to whistle like a tea kettle piercing the confusion, or I can shine forth with patience and grace.

It’s up to me.

I am the one who makes me do what needs to be done.

I am in charge of my emotions. 

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: What turns you into a screeching tea kettle? People, inanimate objects, or situations? 

May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory); and Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope),  Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

10 thoughts on “What Turns You into a Screeching Tea Kettle

  1. I GREATLY DISLIKE being questioned about numbers when I don’t have access to the numbers. IE: away from office Boss questions numbers on a spread sheet. I have nothing to look at and try to remember…(bad idea) the numbers. I am not so good at remembering numbers. Put me back in the office and I will show you exactly where the numbers came from and why it equals that amount.

    I have learned to respond with, “I will go over everything in detail as soon as I am back in the office, so I can make sure we are talking about the same things.” (said with a smile). Keeps everyone happy. 🙂

    • Yes, those pesky numbers — people asking you about things that you are supposed to just be carrying in your head, but can’t. I agree. I love your answer. You are communicating that you want to be sure before you answer, and yet still taking their question seriously. Great response that satisfies you both.

  2. I become extremely irritable when people respond to something I have said with: “You don’t know what you are talking about,” or with “You are wrong and here’s why.” The worst is saying that in public or in front of others. These people ( there are at least four people in my life like that) would hate it if I did that to them! In fact, I know that they would pout, sulk, or act like a big baby if it happened to them. (My solution is to avoid talking with them if at all possible. Still, I sometimes cannot avoid it.). My solution? Say a prayer if I know I will be around them. God provides the patience, tact, and calm. He does seem to expect me to make effort to get those things Ithough!

    • Being questioned about what we are saying is so frustrating. And you are right, most people who question us don’t want to be questioned themselves, so that is not a good solution. But prayer, ahhh, it is amazing how prayer can keep us calm. And maybe even smiling a bit. Which makes them wonder why we are so happy. The trick is not letting them hook us into their debate.

  3. I hate when I can’t talk to people calmly, when I have to get louder to be heard over other noises. I hate because my wi-fi blinks in and out and my printer says out of paper and it’s not. And I do wonder when someone who screeches gets a result and I don’t, even if I try to screech, I can do it, it’s just not me. Self control is a fruit of the spirit. ( But it was empowering when I told a telemarketer I would report him to the FCC, for 11 calls in 3 hrs., and I did too Enough is enough, even for believers. )

    • Getting louder to be heard is one of my problems. My husband says, if you have to talk louder to be heard, the other person’s ears are already stopped up and not listening. Which is usually true, but I still want to be heard sometimes. I know sometimes it works to speak quieter and quieter. But often the best idea is to just stop the conversation and continue it later, if it is that important. Yes, Rebecca, tying not to screech and control our temper and frustration is all about self control.

  4. Your mom was very wise! This point you made stands out to me: “I cannot control the cause, but I can control the effect (my reaction and response).” Yes! And like you said, that’s in the positive and negative sense. God has given us the ability to self-control, and the corresponding responsibility. That’s freeing- and His grace is enough. Thanks for this!

    • You are welcome, Bethany. The older I get the more I realize the only thing I can change is myself. My reaction and response to what ever situation comes my way. This can seem hard, but I am trying to look at it as a blessing.

  5. So much truth here. We don’t get to choose what happens to us, but we always have the choice of how to respond. Funny how that’s easier to tell to our kids than to actually live in our lives, right? Thanks for the reminder!

    • So right Karen. Living it in our lives is hard. Especially when our kids can be one of our hot buttons that gets us screeching. We may feel out of control, but we still have control over our self and how we respond.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*