I cannot remember where I saw two mothers talking to each other years ago—probably on a movie or television show—but one mother said to the other, “Why do you yell at your kids so much?”
The second mother responded, “Because it’s illegal to kill them.”
Despite the dark humor, there is a ray of illuminating truth in this response. As we interact with people, we are responding not only to the stresses of the moment but to the pain of a lifetime. We’re doing our best. This doesn’t make yelling at people a good or loving act—by no means—but sometimes it IS the best we can do at the time.
We need to remember this as other people are unkind to us, that they are doing their best, and that even in their unkindness they may well be restraining themselves from treating us much worse than they are. We need to remember this as WE make mistakes with others, that we are not intentionally being unloving but instead are doing our best while being affected by a lifetime of pain.
Yelling at people certainly isn’t the best choice, but it beats killing them.