CHARACTERS from children's books often convey messages that can be valuable to all of us. Consider angry, mean-looking trolls, for example--a favorite in children's literature. Once recently, as we watched professional football on television, a game official made a debatable decision. One coach flew into a hopping-mad fit on the sideline, right in front of the televisions cameras. My son, always ready to have fun with his five-year-old sister, said, "Look Annie! The terrible troll!
We all laughed. And though the coach quickly regained his composure, we all marveled at how silly he had looked. Then, we laughed at ourselves, remembering the times when each of us had acted out the terrible troll's part.
But temper problems are serious. And solving them is worthy of our best thinking. I thought how unlike himself that coach had appeared, and how unlike myself I feel when I grow angry. Of course, I am responsible for controlling my own emotions. Yet, that "terrible troll image can give a useful starting point for healing anger.
The truth is, anger, whether it's simmering, or erupting and violent, is unlike us. Man in God's image reflects peace, poise, and love from his creator. "Let us make man in our image, the Bible says in Genesis, "after our likeness: and let them have dominion. The man that God gives dominion to is spiritual. Learning in practical terms that this is our genuine identity takes continuing effort. But with the spiritual truth as our ideal, we can make progress.
The Biblical story of David and Nabal illustrates this in a moving way. Nabal, evidently an obnoxious fellow, deeply offends David, and an angry David sets out with a band of armed men to do him violence in return. Abigail, Nabal's wife, quickly moves to intercede peacefully. It's clear her intent is to dissuade David from doing anything that would diminish his prospects for the future. I've found her actual words to David touching and to the point: "A man is risen to pursue thee, and to seek thy s oul: but the soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord thy God. To me, being "bound in the bundle of life with the Lord assures us that the power of God's love is active and able to keep us safe, even from our own missteps.
What does this have to do with healing temper problems in our day? The key point is that man has unique and distinct spiritual individuality. Anger tends to blur and dull our expression of our God-given spiritual individuality. Our potential, our work, our effort--all are diminished by unhealed anger.
Healing a temper problem, then, is more a matter of understanding than struggle. When man is understood to be obedient to God, divine Spirit, who makes man, it is also evident that God governs every aspect of man's being. Not that this means we have no effort to make--we do, by all means. But our effort needs directing toward understanding the discipline that God gives us, rather than struggling to control a temper while we continue to see ourselves as biological beings, separated from God's love.
The Bible says that all power belongs to God, or divine Mind. Since God is all-powerful, He is able to give man control over his thinking and his actions. "This normal control is gained through divine strength and understanding, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, tells us in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
The "terrible troll is a fictional character. No such character exists in reality. Likewise, no one is "terrible in God's sight. And through His love, we can feel the great peace of our Father's presence that permeates every part of our lives and brings healing.