Roger was a very happy young boy. He was very outgoing and loved to make his friends laugh and smile. Most of the time he spent happy days with his friends, however, Roger had one problem. Once in a while, when things did not go his way, he got very angry. When he was angry, his friends did not like to be around him.
One day, in the middle of summer, Roger went out looking for his friends to play with. He knew he had an anger problem and wished he could control it, but sometimes no matter how hard he tried, he just got angry. He wanted his friends to like him, not be scared off by his anger.
When he came to the park, he saw Carla, Elwood, and Bruce just standing around. “Hi, what are you doing?” he said. Carla answered, “We can’t decide what to do. What would you like to do?”
“Let’s go see if we can get some friends and play ball,” said Roger.
“Play ball? I don’t really want to,” Carla remarked. “I’m no good at playing ball.”
Roger was getting frustrated, but he did not want his friends to know. He tried to keep his anger inside, but he could still feel it coming.
Since no one had any ideas, Roger then suggested, “What about hide and seek?”
“I hate that game, I always lose,” said Bruce, who was a bit overweight and could not run fast.
Roger was now getting more annoyed, but he did not tell his friends how he was feeling. Finally, he said, “How about all of us racing to the creek and we can throw rocks in the water.” He was a fast runner.
Elwood, who was also a fast runner said, “Let’s go.” So off they ran. Elwood was faster than Roger that day, and when Elwood beat him, Roger got very, very angry and in a loud voice he snapped, “You guys are no fun and I don’t want to play with you anymore.”
Bruce, who just got to the creek in time to hear Roger say this, said, “Roger, you’re our friend and we like to play with you, but when you get angry, we don’t like to be with you.” With that, Bruce, Elwood and Carla walked away.
“Well, I never liked them anyway,” Roger mumbled as he stomped around the park and scuffed stones with his shoes. “I’ll go to my secret place and play by myself.”
His secret place was in a little grassy spot behind a lilac bush next to the fence at the far corner of the empty lot behind his family’s house. When he felt like nobody liked him, Roger would go to this secret place just to be alone.
“Nobody will find me here,” he muttered. Here he sat and sat and muttered and muttered to himself. There was no one to make him frustrated, or hurt, or sad here. But also, there was nobody to talk to or play with either. He thought he would feel better, but he did not. He felt lonely.
Suddenly, he heard a noise. Somebody was nearby, just on the other side of the fence. He looked up to see Mr. Jones peering over the fence at him. Mr. Jones was retired, and he had a flower garden just on the other side. Roger hoped Mr. Jones had not heard him muttering.
“Is that you, Roger? What are you doing here alone?” Mr. Jones asked.
“Just having fun by myself,” Roger muttered and looked down at the ground.
“If you’re having so much fun, why do you look and sound so sad?”
“I’m angry and I want to be alone,” Roger replied.
Mr. Jones looked deep into Roger’s eyes and said, “Sometimes when we get hurt or feel frustrated, or things just don’t go our way, we get angry. And when we get angry, we end up hurting those who love us, our friends and family.”
“What do you do when you feel angry?” asked Roger.
“When I begin to feel angry, I pray right away. I need God’s help to take the anger away immediately or then I know I will say something that will hurt my friends and family. It has worked, and now I hardly ever feel angry anymore.”
Roger was surprised to hear Mr. Jones say that. He thought everyone felt things the same way he did when they were angry.
“When things go wrong, and don’t go my way,” continued Mr. Jones, “I now stop and think it through. I ask myself, what I will gain by getting angry. Then I realize it is not worth it. I will end up saying and doing things I regret, so, God helps me to put the angry feelings away immediately and I sing a hymn.”
Roger replied, “When I get angry, I stomp around and, you are right, I say things I wish I had not said. My friends don’t want to play with me now.”
“And how do you feel when your friends don’t like you?” asked Mr. Jones.
“I feel hurt and sad. And then I feel even more angry.”
“So, sometimes when you feel mad, it’s because you first felt hurt and sad and things did not go your way?” asked Mr. Jones.
“I guess so,” said Roger. “I had never thought of that.”
“Well,” said Mr. Jones, “if getting angry didn’t help, what else could you do that might work better?”
“I suppose I should try to do as you do and pray. My parents have morning and evening worship with me, but I never pray in between. I forget all about God during the day.”
Mr. Jones added, “you don’t have to bow on your knees to pray in the middle of the day. If you are in sudden need, God will hear and answer you if you send up a quick prayer from your heart right at the time of danger. And He answers immediately.”
Roger thought long and hard about what Mr. Jones said. That evening when he prayed before bedtime, asking God to help him with his anger during the day.
Next day, Roger went by himself to the park to throw stones in the creek. He was still thinking about what Mr. Jones had said, and he was trying to do as he suggested by sending little prayers to heaven for help to control himself today. He then saw his friends having a wonderful time at the other side of the park. He went close to them and hoped they would invite him to play. “Hi,” he said. They waved back but continued with their game. They did not invite him to play. Roger felt really hurt inside. He felt sad. But he decided to take Mr. Jones’ advice and he sent another prayer to heaven. “Lord, I feel hurt and sad that my friends don’t want to play with me, but I know it is because I was angry yesterday. Please help me not to be angry today when I am hurt. And please make them want to play with me again.” Roger then started to sing.
Then Elwood heard him singing and noticed that Roger was sad and not mad, so he called him, “Roger, would you like to play with us?”
“Sure,” said Roger. “Thank you, Lord,” he whispered under his breath. In his eagerness to get to his friends, he slipped in the mud at the edge of the creek and fell in. He had mud all over. He heard his friends start to laugh. When he stumbled toward them, they laughed even louder.
Roger was embarrassed that he had fallen in the mud. He did not like his friends laughing at him and he felt a strong temptation to get angry at them and tell them how he was feeling, but again, he took Mr. Jones’s advice. “Lord, I am hurt that they are laughing at me, but they want to play with me. Thank you that I have not hurt myself when I fell in the mud. Please take these angry feelings away.”
Suddenly Roger found himself laughing along with his friends. He looked down at himself. He was not hurt, and he did look pretty funny. It felt good to laugh instead of being angry and stomping away.
Then they all went back to playing their game.
From that day onwards, Roger had learned the secret of controlling his anger. He was helpless to control it himself, but every time he felt the anger rising, he prayed, and Jesus helped him to not be angry. And as time went on, he noticed he was feeling less and less angry. Things did not bother and annoy him as they used to. He had learned to talk with God all day long and, as long as he did, he found himself able to be happy and to laugh, no matter what situation he found himself in.
“Never should we lose control of ourselves. Let us ever keep before us the perfect Pattern. It is a sin to speak impatiently and fretfully or to feel angry–even though we do not speak. We are to walk worthy, giving a right representation of Christ.” –Child Guidance, p. 95
“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians, 5:16–18