“Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Philippians 4:5
My grandfather was slow to anger and had the patience of Job. I never heard him raise his voice, he never lashed out in anger at someone else, and he never lost his temper with us kids. Sam Epperson was a perfect example of even temperament and patience. Since my grandfather drew from an unending well of serenity, he handled difficult situations and irritating people with gentleness and kindness. If only I had inherited those qualities from my grandfather…if only.
Dr. Bruce Banner was the brilliant scientist that transformed into the Incredible Hulk under extreme emotional stress. Banner was controlled—responsible—even highly intelligent in most instances. However, when something went wrong, you better watch out! One moment a wide-eyed man of wisdom and the next an emotional basket case.
Before anyone could figure out what was really going on, Dr. Bruce Banner turned green, burst out of shirt, and suddenly had a terrible case of high waters. He absolutely blew up into a fit of rage and it was 80’s television at its dramatic best. Was it a lack of self-control or a passion to turn a wrong into a right? What did he accomplish by unleashing his emotional stress to the point of transfiguration? How might the results have been different if he had allowed Proverbs 15:1 to direct his thoughts and actions?
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” -Proverbs 15:1
Better yet, how might the results of the upheavals in my life be different and more positive if I were to focus my attention on Proverbs 15:1? Rather than resembling my grandfather when a particularly difficult situation arises, I am more prone to embody the angst and wrath of the Incredible Hulk. Unfortunately, when I boil over with emotional anxiety, people do not view it as theatric genius they did when the gargantuan green monster fell apart at the seams. Rather, they may have a spirit of cautiousness or an uneasy feeling about how I might react. They might avoid me or prefer not to invite me into the more intimate details of their life. They might even walk on eggshells to prevent me from becoming emotional.
I have no desire to walk through life being compared to the Incredible Hulk. I’m not an infamous scientist that can blame a bad science experiment on my shortcomings. Green is not one of my favorite colors and I prefer that my pants not randomly creep up my shins. Being forever watchful and mindful of the things that trigger my emotions seems a great place to start in taming the green giant that lurks inside me. Staying strong in courage rather than being a slave to my emotions will keep me true to His call on my life. Dr. Bruce Banner once said, “I want to make sure that never happens again. I want to be Dr. Banner, not Dr. Jekyll.” This is a true sentiment for someone like me to cling to as I strive not to be guided by outside stress or inward heartache. Rather, may I be compelled to allow the Holy Spirit and the goodness of God to dwell in me and flow from me as a fount of strength and love.