The heart of a Scottish ancestor

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, March 24, 2021

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My father and I acquired a characteristic from a Scottish ancestor who, if I go to heaven, I am going to have choice words with. Our inherited faces, eyes mainly, cannot hide our emotions. 

Mom always said, “No use for you or your Dad to lie because your faces tell the whole story!” So, that means we never got away with anything. That same relative of long ago also bequeathed us a big mouth to accompany our tell-all eyes. What a combination! 

If I am unhappy, friends will say, “What’s wrong?” 

“Nothing, I am fine.” And they quickly respond, “No, you’re not, I can tell!” 

Then, of course, I will narrate the whole story of why I am sad in full detail, which is always too much information. Mama learned not to ask when she did not want to know. She was a wise woman.

The other day I found myself a bit miffed about a silly benign minor incident involving a group of good friends. A few others felt as I did, but of course, only I was the one who could not conceal my disappointment. During our lunch gathering, I wrongfully perceived I did an outstanding job of not looking directly at others and hiding my feelings, but I failed because they all knew honestly felt.

However, I have found that when someone does upset me, it is usually better to talk it out and throw all the anger away afterward. Therefore, bitterness and resentment do not settle in my soul. 

A few can successfully stifle emotion and not let it cause harm, but not many.   My father could voice his temper, but once it was over, it was gone. He could be hurt, but once he healed, he held no resentment. He was not afraid to show tears cascading down his cheeks when he was sad, nor share his joy with those who needed a laugh.  When we harbor rage, resentment, and hatred, it becomes venom. Depression, violence, addictions, and loss can occur. When we don’t allow ourselves to cry or feel we cannot express ourselves without fear of retaliation, we exacerbate our distress.

Sometimes our inward hurts turn into outright physical pain. We know stress creates disease and death. Often our worries carry such a burden within our souls, our frustration spills over, and we lash out. We say things we do not mean and regret our actions.

In society today, our anxiety and anger have become so apparent, we must ask ourselves what we can do to create calm instead of chaos? We can disagree about almost anything, and it is our right to voice our opinions, but not to the point where we cause harm to others. Losing friends or families being torn apart because of differing views is simply tragic, and it speaks volumes as to what takes precedence in our lives.

A lone man sat in a dank prison cell around 62 AD. He was known to be a hateful, mean-spirited bully in his younger days who participated in torturing those who did not believe as he did.

He was bitter, and his rage turned poisonous to those who encountered him until Saul was blinded by a brilliant light. After three days, his sight was restored, and he was changed forever because he met Jesus, the one he had previously persecuted. 

From his jailed darkness, the converted Apostle Paul wrote letters to spread the light of Christ throughout the world. In his epistle to the Ephesians, he wrote: Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry. Quarreling, harsh words and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. (Ephesians 5:31).

Paul knew if the Good Lord could forgive him, then mercy, love, kindness, humility, and faith were the only way to get out of our self-imposed jails.  That same old Scottish ancestor also blessed Dad and me with something more than our big mouths, freckles, and bad hair. I was given a deep faith not only in God but in mankind. I firmly believe if we try, we can always become a better version of who we were yesterday. 

If we are worried, find ourselves angrily irritated most of the time, frustrated, or resentful, there is only one antidote to this debilitating poison. Place the anguish into the same hands that transformed persecuting, revengeful Saul into Saint Paul the Apostle. We might as well because God knows by looking at us how we honestly feel.