James Ray Johnson – 752 words
Football practice was brutal that day! I was 11 years old and truly believed I had to get something to eat or I would die. So, I went to Elbon’s, the corner store, named after the owner. I think that was his first name, but maybe his last. I don’t know! I plunked down a quarter and bought two packages of Hostess Twinkies. (Oh, like you have never done that!) I was excited! 2 packages of 2, for a total of 4 delectable tubes of cream-filled sponge cake. All mine!
I left the store and with trembling fingers, tore into the crinkly cellophane of the first package. And then, the saddest thing happened. I fumbled with the twinkie and helplessly watched as it tumbled out (along with its brother).
I tried to catch them, but with two falling at once, I looked like a twinkie juggler who didn’t make the cut on America’s Got Talent. Both ended up on the dirty gritty sidewalk below.
Tragic to be sure. Two twinkies had perished BUT thankfully I still had my second package. So, as you might expect, I wound up and threw it, with all my might, at the brick exterior of Elbon’s. And they stuck, reduced to a yellow and white Rorschach blot on the wall. There! I taught those naughty Twinkies a lesson. They’ll never do that to me again.
It sort-of felt good, for about a half a millisecond, until I was stunned by my own stupidity. I ended up with zero Twinkies and with no money left to buy more. I lost one package, and my anger caused me to destroy the other – leaving me nothing.
Why did I do that? I don’t know! I had red hair and was known to have, what they call in the south, “a red-headed temper.” It was even said of Anne Shirley of Green Gables (from up north) “her temper matches her hair.” Can I blame it on my genes?
It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I realized that this was ridiculous a pattern in my life. I would lose one thing then let my anger steal the rest. Solomon captured the dynamic in Proverbs 19:19, “A person with great anger bears the penalty.” (NET Bible®)
A friend promised to play tennis with me. He bailed so I, “unfriended him.” Which really wasn’t a thing back then – but I did it anyway. How dumb. I took a really rewarding relationship and trashed it because I didn’t get my way. Sure, he was insensitive and, yes, we needed to talk – but I let my anger nuke that possibility.
And there was the time my boss crossed me, so I quit in a snit; or the time my car broke down for the 6th time, so I defied it by driving it to the junkyard and selling it for pennies on the dollar; or the time my dad hurt me, and I returned the favor. Each scenario just as dumb as my Twinkie trauma. I lost one thing then let my anger steal the rest.
I am glad that Jesus finally got a hold of me. With His Spirit in control, my frequent “outbursts of anger” have been upstaged by long spans of “self-control.” (Galatians 5:20-23)
My hair is now white, and yet there is still red-headed DNA lurking in the roots. When I am not walking with Jesus, my temper is the first thing to show.
My Twinkie tale, however, has become a great asset. I dutifully but shamefully confessed it to my three children when they were little and then used it against them as needed. When my teen threw a fit because she had to be home at ten, I would say, “Do you really want to throw away your other Twinkie?” She would back down thinking, “I don’t want to be as dumb as dad was.” I also use the story with my grand kids which is necessary because the red-headed gene keeps popping up in my family. And you are welcome, as well, to throw me under the bus and use the story with your progeny.
The story also gives me a chance to make you chuckle and to remind you that we all have our own anger issues. Be careful! Anger is often reckless and always costly! “Better to be slow to anger than to be a mighty warrior.” (Proverbs 16:32) NET Bible®
Oh, and Mr. Elbon, sorry about the Twinkie stain on your wall!