It was the afternoon before Rosh Hashanah. The time for candle lighting was getting closer and I was still so far from being ready for the holiday. My anxiety was escalating at the realization that I had to be at a certain point of preparedness by a certain time and I was struggling to get there.

Adding to my anxiety, my husband had called to tell me that he had to work late on a project and would not be home until just before candle lighting. Initially, I had felt mildly irritated and inconvenienced, but quickly my irritation turned to resentment and then anger. As a cohort to my emotions, my mind raced with thoughts of how there were increasingly more occasions when my husband would rush through the door just as I was beginning to light candles for Shabbat or Yom Tov.

My irritation turned to resentment and then anger I thought how unfair it was that he could just come home to find everything ready and enjoy the bounty of my labor. My anger was fuelled by the stories that my mind created—such as how he must not appreciate me, that he takes me for granted and that I had signed on to a life of creating a Jewish home alone. My mind had become the womb for my anger to gestate in as it was nourished by unhelpful thoughts and stories.

My children further added to my stress. I had spent hours cleaning the house, an act that simply created new space for the children to wreak havoc. My neighbor always comments about how nature abhors a vacuum and my kids were the perfect example of nature doing its thing. Guests were coming and I wanted the house to look perfect which, in hindsight, meant looking like no children lived there.

My mind again began spinning new stories of how my role as wife and mother was nothing more than that of housekeeper. I really thought and felt as if I were on a carousel of chores and that everything I ever did was simply undone. It was also getting late and the kids began whining for diaper changes, for supper, to be read to sleep, to be acknowledged. I felt futile, and victimized by my lack of control over my children and over my environment.

True to his word, my husband rushed through the door in what I call the "minutes before Yom Tov frenzy". This was accompanied by a bombardment of commands to the older children such as: "Turn off the phones!" "Unscrew the fridge light!" "Clean the candle holders!"

Then he turned to me and asked "Are you aware that Yom Tov is starting in less than two minutes?"

And that is when I lost it. I felt my anger contracting my soul in order to make more room in my body to hold it. The energy was involuntary and it grew beyond what I could contain and then it erupted, and I exploded. I had unconsciously birthed an unrecognizable, uncontrollable and very scary version of myself.

Unkind words spewed forth from my mouth and the casserole dish I had been carrying to the oven left my hands and flew across the room. I was not just angry; I had become the embodiment of Anger. My rage burned, unstoppable. I had been ugly in my words and actions, and it seemed that I had momentarily shattered our otherwise harmonious relationship; my children's feelings of trust, safety and confidence in me; my integrity and my dignity. Afterward, I felt embarrassed, guilty and ashamed.

My rage burned, unstoppableYet, that evening G‑d offered me a gift cloaked in my anger. The gift was the opportunity for personal refinement. Our Sages teach us that our capacity for growth is proportionate to our depths of despair. And so that night, after much reflection, I came to see two sides of my anger.

In exploding, my anger had been like the hot fiery lava that the earth can no longer contain and that forcefully erupts from the volcano and destroys everything in its path. The other side of my anger, however, offers the potential of being the beautiful fire of transformation, like the fire that turns sand into glass and metal into tools, and a force that can turn coal into diamonds. It is the powerful force which, if I shift my focus and energy inwards, can be used for my own personal transformation.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov stated that the best antidote for one's anger is a compassionate heart. In Hebrew, the word for "compassion" (rachamim), shares the same root as the words for "womb" (rechem) and for "tomorrow" (machar). From this I came to understand two main concepts. The first is that each of our souls is on a sacred journey from the womb to the end of our days. The people in our lives share the journey with us and help us improve ourselves and polish our souls, and for this reason, we should treat them with compassion and gratitude for being our teachers. The second concept is that, if I acknowledge my anger and conduct myself with compassion my actions will not be those that I will regret in the tomorrow that follows.

Recently, I experienced another very stressful situation with my children, and this time the outcome was completely different. This time, when my anxiety began to rise and I felt the first inklings of anger, I turned my thoughts inward to where my anger was germinating. I used my anger to shine light on the real underlying emotions that I was feeling in the moment. I realized and acknowledged that I was overextended, anxious; that I could not force my children to cooperate and that I was really feeling like "poor me." I saw and understood that I was angry at the situation that was presenting itself and that I needed to take steps to remedy it.

That night, realizing that I could not control the situation but that I could choose my actions, I gave myself a short "time out" with a cup of tea. I reminded myself that each moment we are given is compassionately presented to us the way our Creator intends it to be. And so, I lowered my expectations and surrendered to the situation.

I could not control the situation but I could choose my actionsI stood back and realized that a perfectly clean house was not as important as the wholeness of my children's souls or the intact state of my own integrity. I chose to respond with compassion for them and for myself, and in this way I acted out of love as opposed to reacting out of resentment. Afterward, I felt great.

The truth is that having come to realize this about myself does not mean that I "get it right" all of the time, but I am succeeding more of the time. When I feel the fire of my anger, I acknowledge that I am still a diamond in the rough, working toward personal refinement. Realizing this, I will enter a new year with a new perspective of gratitude for the gifts I am given to further develop myself.