It wasn't because I was ill. Nor because I was any tireder than usual. I sent myself to bed at 8.30pm on Bank Holiday Monday because I couldn't be trusted to be nice to any of my family. I know that this is a punishment usually reserved for those younger than 46, but things had got desperate.
Undoubtedly circumstances contributed. I was experiencing once again the shattering of my happy family illusion. For some reason, before every holiday, I genuinely believe that what lies ahead is like the end of a Disney film. But happily ever after just doesn't exist in a household of 8 people plus one mother-in-law (she was very well behaved!). And if one more person asks if I have had a restful Christmas, I might just explode and say, "You have our three youngest children for a week (aged 7, 4 & 3) and then see how rested you feel!" Today I am enjoying the guilty pleasure of having to work in my office. Largely on my own.
But the biggest problem wasn't the reality of family life. It was me.
I am a passionate sort of bloke. I always have been. You could put it down to the Welsh "hwyl". This is defined by the dictionary as a "stirring feeling of emotional motivation". But it is better understood as the red mist that descends on Welsh rugby players that makes mild men, loving fathers, those otherwise employed in the caring professions, want to do nothing more than punch an Englishman. But "hwyl" isn't my primary problem. Sin is.
I was reading about a bloke like me in the Bible this morning. He was called Cain. He had the lethal combination of self-righteousness coupled with an anger management problem. His self-righteousness led him to be jealous when his brother Abel's wholehearted offering to God was accepted, but his half-hearted offering was rejected. God could see the rage rising. So he had a word with Cain.
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6)
"Look Cain, you're the one at fault here. You can put it right. But if you choose to indulge your sinful anger, then it's just waiting to take control of your life."
Cain had a decision to make. Apologise and back down. Or let his emotions engulf him.
Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. (Genesis 4:8)
Cain had to live with that decision for the rest of his life.
When we indulge our self-righteous anger it consumes us. I have met people who have been unable to accept that their anger is their problem, with the result that they have become blind to the way that they verbally assault others. Unable to see the sin that has mastered them. But often quick to spot the way that they feel that they have been wronged themselves. It's a miserable place to be.
But our sinful feelings don't have to control us. The apostle Paul teaches us that sin no longer has control over those who trust in Jesus. That it's power over us was defeated at the cross. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires." (Romans 6:12)
There is still decision to be made. Like Cain we can choose to let sin reign or choose to serve Christ. That decision will be a battle. But with Jesus it is possible.
Cain should have admitted that it was his problem and taken himself off to bed. It might be an extreme measure. But in our house it meant that everyone else could enjoy watching "Sherlock" without Mr Grumpy sitting in the corner.