Steven Slater has done the thing that millions of workers have at one time or another wanted to do, dreamed about doing. One has to wonder if that one moment of intense venting is actually worth it. This incident is actually mild compared to other frustrated workers’ reactions. The violence spurred by lack of self-control fanned into flames by irresponsible bosses coined the American slang, going postal. But that term is usually associated with job-related murders and mass murders.
Getting hit in the head with heavy luggage without an apology wasn’t what got Slater’s goat. It’s getting hit in the head hundreds of times, it’s the rudeness, it’s the absence of “thank you”, it’s the lack of being appreciated by the company you work for and those you work with, then add to the pressure cooker the fact that your Mom has lung cancer and the mix is volatile as Slater proved. One could almost surmise that this kind of behavior would happen sooner or later, IF one knew all the particulars, such as compensation including bonus plans and benefits as well as incentives, working conditions and on and on. All those things factor into why a person melts down. It was reported that Slater was a recovering alcoholic. So, is the passenger to blame for his falling off the wagon when he snatched the beers from the airplane fridge? I’m not condoning his actions. On the contrary, I deplore them because his job was a flight attendant and that necessarily means handling wayward, disgruntled, fearful and sometimes mean passengers. It is part of the job. He has zero excuse for his actions. But, 4therapy.com lists considerable reasons why he’ll probably not pay for his actions.
What is at work here is the inability to handle mounting frustrations and stress. Slater’s mom said in an ABC report that she might have even done worse that her son did. Well, she would know more about the situation than what has been reported so far.
I overhead a young woman tell my pastor the other night, “I’ve decided he won’t get my goat because I won’t tell him where it’s tied up.” I thought this an amazing decision and very pithy.
Which brought a question or two to mind that I’ve been pondering for quite some time: Do we Christians tie our goats to our belts and drag them behind us everywhere we go? Does the blatant display of our goats make us easy targets? Is this why our tender feelings get bruised so easily when someone expresses an opinion contrary to our own?
For some reason, there is some erroneous thinking that we Christians are supposed to be these suffering martyrs, accepting everything thrown at us without a peep of aggravation or complaint. Of course in a perfect world, we do accept it and we try to be content in whatever condition we find ourselves, just as Paul teaches. But, seriously…
The man after God’s own heart was quite vocal with his indignation. Look at some of the things he said:
For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is engulfing ruin; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue. 10 O God, hold them guilty; let them fall from their own counsels. Drive them away in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You.
Admittedly, those who had transgressed against David had done so robustly against God as well. Anyone who messes with God’s children, messes with God. He gets rather perturbed at those who attack His children who are going about His business. We see this clearly in Psalm 5:4 For You are not a God enjoying wickedness; nor shall evil live with You. 5 The boasters shall not set themselves before Your eyes. You hate all workers of iniquity. 6 You shall destroy those speaking lies; Jehovah will despise the man of blood and deceit.
David pleads with God because of my enemies, make straight Your way before me and lead me in Your righteousness. David was wary of his enemies getting his goat. He looked to the One who could keep things in perspective, and guide him through the dark valley into the sunshine. Perhaps, goat protecting is not just God’s job, though. It should be a joint venture between God and us. We must make the deliberate decision to keep our goat and not to handily display it for all to see and covet.
It is okay to raise your complaint to God. He knows your heart anyway. David did it frequently and, it is supposed, that he recognized the good that came from it. Pouring out all that ire, hurt, despair, doubt, unforgiveness, stubbornness, bitterness, and confusion will do several things for you.
You will be able to articulate exactly what has got you so upset. Then you can consider whether it is crucially important to do something about, or whether it is something that you can set behind you just as God puts our sins behind His back never to be thought of again. After the outburst is over, and the tears have been wiped away, you can then consider the next step in a more calm state of mind. This is critical because all that bad stuff blows toward God rather than on your loved ones. This is a major achievement because God can actually do something about the trouble in your heart, whereas, your loved ones don’t have that kind of power.
This leads to another vital point which is that God cannot be tempted to sin by all our hurtful bitterness and anger, but our loved ones can be moved to exasperation beyond control. It is always best to get rid of it. Make that decision for it to never sit and fester like an untreated sore. Once it is out in the open between you and God, then determine not to wallpaper your mind with it again. You must redecorate your mind with wholesome things rather than unwholesome things. That is not a simple thing to do.
That is why God is such a great baby buggy bumper. God will absorb it for us. We can bounce anything off Him and He is none the worse for wear. If we try that with our friends and loved ones, we never know if we have nicked or pricked them with our own hurt. If we aim it toward passengers or clients as Steven Slater did, then a few moments of anger impacts our future chance of income and the frustration remains to fester. Only God will never allow anything to happen to us beyond what we can withstand. He is the escape hatch, if we only will utilize it.
Psalm 55:16 I, even I, will call to God, and Jehovah will save me. 17 Evening and morning, and at noon, I will pray and cry aloud; and He shall hear my voice. 18 He has delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me; for there were many with me.
Psalm 141:10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets together, while I escape.
When someone finds your goat and steals it, then first listen to God’s voice as He says, “Peace. Be still.” Say the first ten words of the LORD’s prayer. Pour out every bit of your ire, bitterness, hurt, unforgiveness, and stubbornness before Him. Every time you think of what has hurt you, pray one of David’s prayers. Trust God to vindicate you. He absolutely will. You may never know it or hear of it, but He will. Know that others are watching how you handle the situation and judging Jesus by your responses. Is that fair? Of course not, but nothing in this life is really fair. We’ll have to wait until Heaven for that.
(Reprinted from Everyday Christian post, Wednesday, August 11, 2010)