I Learned to Control My Temper
THE scene was a familiar one: a European pub like so many others in which I had played as a musician. As usual, my friends and I had indulged in heavy drinking. I don’t even remember why some of the customers attacked us.
I do remember a brawl breaking out. I was young and strong and hit one of the customers so hard that he fell over a table. Then I seized a chair and began to beat the others. A few minutes later, the room was empty—except for a motionless body lying on the floor. Frightened and desperate, I ran home to say good-bye to my wife, convinced I would be arrested and convicted of murder!
This, unfortunately, was not the first time my temper had gotten the best of me. But to appreciate why this was so, you must understand a bit about my background. I was raised in a family of Gypsies—not the traveling kind, for my family always lived in their own house. Father was often drunk and insanely jealous of my mother. Violent outbursts were common in our home.
The way of life I later pursued also exposed me to many bad influences. Father earned his living as a musician, and I followed him as soon as I turned eight years of age. I learned to play the accordion, and when I was 13, I would appear as a soloist or with other musicians. This meant playing in hotels, pubs, and at wedding receptions, often all night long. I soon learned to drink heavily and to smoke.
Marriage and Jealousy
None of this helped me develop a calm personality. Even marriage did not settle me down. At age 19 I wed a pretty Gypsy girl. We went according to Gypsy custom, having a ceremony performed by the chieftain of the clan, rather than by a clergyman. I can remember his taking my hand and my bride’s hand and binding them together with our palms upward. He then poured an alcoholic drink into each palm. I had to drink out of my bride’s palm and she out of mine. From then on we were considered by the Gypsy community as legally married, although we later got married in the town hall to have our marriage registered.
Shortly thereafter I found myself feeling the same violent jealousy my father had manifested. I began beating my young wife, sometimes as often as twice a week! No doubt this contributed to my drinking more heavily than ever. This, in turn, simply aggravated my temper. Once I was drinking at my father’s house along with a few other Gypsy companions. My elder brother began to slander my wife. As drunk as I was, I ran home, took my wife by the hand and dragged her out of bed in her nightgown all the way to my father’s home. I made her swear in front of the cross that what my elder brother had said was not true!
However, even though she swore to everything, I became more angry. I ran home, took an ax, and began to smash the windows of my house. Another brother of mine came in and tried to restrain me. I pushed him away so violently he fell down the stairs and broke his hand.
My violent temper ran unchecked for quite some time until the incident mentioned at the outset, when I thought I had killed a man. After saying farewell to my wife, I went to the local Roman Catholic church, where I knelt down in front of the main entrance and, in tears, prayed to God for his forgiveness. I promised that never again would I do anything like that! To my great relief, though, I learned that the man was not dead but merely stunned.
Somehow, I still felt very depressed and despondent. Three days later and still very troubled, I was traveling on a train to work. A young man started talking to me about God’s Kingdom, a government that will solve all the problems that afflict mankind—a government that will rid the earth of sickness, death, and sorrow! The young man was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since I believed in God, I politely listened. But what the young man was telling me just seemed unrealistic. “Who could do all of this?” I asked him. He replied, “Almighty God will.”
This answer fully satisfied me. He also handed me a booklet and promised to visit my house. Before he could, two other Witnesses visited me and brought me three older books, Creation, Reconciliation, and Riches, all published by the Watch Tower Society. When the young man I had met on the train finally visited, we began studying the book “Let God Be True.”*
I made rapid progress. Within six weeks I realized from my reading of these publications that my church had nothing to offer me. I went to the rectory and asked for my name to be deleted from their membership list.
It began to dawn on me, though, that I would also have to make some changes in my personality. I knew an elderly lady at my place of work who was a Witness. “Do Witnesses take part in entertainments and weddings?” I asked her. “Yes, they do,” she replied. “But they behave in the Christian way.” I asked her what that meant.
“They don’t get drunk; neither do they shout or smoke.”
From this moment on, I never touched a cigarette again. And in the third month of my Bible study, I suddenly stopped playing with my musician friends. I realized that such bad company would impede my progress.
That meant finding a new way of making a living. So I worked as a bricklayer. My new trade, however, did not bring in the money that working as a musician had. So my wife, my father, my brothers—simply everybody that knew me—were against me and tried to force me to return to my former way of life. With Jehovah’s help, I stopped drinking alcohol excessively and started trying to control my temper.
You would think my wife would have been thrilled by my changes, but not so. Because I did not beat her or argue with her anymore, she felt I did not love her anymore! Such is the thinking of a Gypsy woman. Then Christmas approached and I did not make any preparations to celebrate it. I had learned from the Bible that this is not a celebration that God approves.* My wife, however, understood none of this. She became so angry that she left me, taking with her our four children. She stayed with her parents, who then sent me the following message: Abandon your new religion or you will never enter our home again and your wife will not return to you!
This was very strong pressure because I loved my wife and children very much. I refused to give in, and two weeks later my wife and children returned home—without any stipulations. Shortly thereafter, just six months after meeting that young man, I was baptized as a witness of Jehovah.
Keeping My Temper Under Control
Though I was now a baptized Christian, controlling my temper still wasn’t easy. However, with Bible study and fervent prayer, Jehovah gave me the strength needed.
I also had to put up with my wife’s opposition. Often she would laugh at me when I would try to study the Bible. If I tried to share with her something I was reading, she would start singing in a loud voice to drown me out! In time, however, my changed personality had an effect upon her. Two years later, she too became a loyal worshiper of Jehovah.
It has been a long time since I almost killed a man in that pub. Since then I have had the privilege of serving as an elder in a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and of watching all my children, except one, accept the truth. I work with a congregation of real Christians who do not fear me but who willingly work with me in our preaching activity.
Yes, I am overjoyed that Bible truths helped me overcome my violent temper.—Since the writer of this article lives in a country where Christianity is banned by the government, he chooses to remain anonymous.
Today these publications are all out of print.
See the publication You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, chapter 25.
[Blurb on page 19]
At age 19 I wed a pretty Gypsy girl
[Blurb on page 20]
I began beating my young wife, sometimes as often as twice a week
[Blurb on page 21]
“They don’t get drunk; neither do they shout or smoke”