Her anger threatened to destroy her marriage.
Jodie Cooper got to a point after four years of marriage where things were really bad and she couldn't see a way forward.
"I had big anger issues, I would try to manipulate and control my husband with my moods and actions," she admits. "I was easily frustrated with him, never satisfied with what he had done and very quick to criticise and blame him. I also have sensitivity to certain sounds, and this was triggered a lot in our home and it would make me uncontrollably angry.
"I also really wanted to be the boss all the time."
For a long time Jodie was in denial about the situation because she couldn't face how bad things were and felt like there was no way the situation could get better.
"I couldn't see the way out so it was easier not to think about it and get on with my life."
Having grown up in the church, and considering herself 'saved', Jodie eventually sought Christian counselling and asked specific people to pray for her. "Every time I held onto hope that this was going to solve my problems. It never did. All of this mess led me to really question my faith," she shares.
Looking around at her fellow believers, Jodie saw many people struggling with similar character issues, so she concluded that maybe God wasn't able to help her with her anger problems.
However, Jodie had a fundamental misunderstanding of what the gospel – good news of Jesus – meant. She had thought it was a truth you believed that was like ticking a faith box and getting a ticket to heaven. She hadn't realised that Christianity is not believing in Jesus as much as it is submitting to Jesus – all your life, every day, in an ongoing act of dying to self.
"It sounds so silly looking back and I know it is not even close to the teaching of the Bible," she admits, "but I wasn't reading my Bible at the time either. I read devotionals and things but never actually just the Bible. So I started to understand, and research in the Bible, about what the gospel is and the new life that we have because of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.
"I started to realise that this wasn't just something that I needed to hear once and agree with and that was that, but I needed to use it to renew my mind [change my thinking], daily. And I saw for the first time the weight of my sin, the offence that it was against a Holy God and the incredible price that Jesus had to pay for it for me [by dying on the cross]. I had never understood this. And seeing it clearly for the first time meant that I could actually face it in my marriage."
Whereas before she had been proud and unable to acknowledge her faults, now Jodie was able to humble herself before her husband and ask for forgiveness. And she started to take ownership of her own wrongdoing. "I spent time meditating on what the Bible said about anger and I started to see my anger the way God did.
"Instead of justifying it, I started to hate it and to want to be free from it, not just because it was making my marriage difficult. Even my issue with sounds – God has blessed me with ways to deal with them that are kind to those around me and bring Him glory, which I never could have imagined was possible.
"[Reading the Bible and books about the gospel] gave me the ability to see myself clearly, to understand that the problem really was me and that there was a wonderful solution provided in Jesus. When I could finally face these facts I felt such freedom and hope. I told God the depth of my sins and the way that I hadn't loved Him as I should, and asked Jesus to forgive me and be the Lord of my life."
So although Jodie had grown up going to church all her life, "probably my real conversion was three years ago, when I really understood the gospel".
As a result, her marriage has "changed drastically". "I still slip into old habits but I am so much more ready to face my sin and apologise. But besides that I feel like everything has changed - my purpose in life, my desires, where I get my identity. Life is so much fuller."
The Bible says in John chapter 8 and verse 32; "And you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free" and Jodie has experienced this first hand. "The truth about God, the truth about me, the truth about the solution to the problems in the world and the truth about the future, opens the door to the most amazing life of freedom and joy that I never knew was possible and it is something that I need to keep being reminded of every day.
"God made humans to love Him most, but we don't, we love all kinds of other junk instead. This is at the heart of all of our rebellion against Him, and it has the most terrible consequences for us. But Jesus fixed this problem for us in the most incredible and unexpected way. He deserves all of our love, and only when we give it to Him will we find what life is really all about."
Jodie is so excited by what she has learnt that she has written a series of children's books called Good News in the Gum Trees to help others understand and apply the gospel to their everyday lives. The books include family study guides and action projects to get the whole family involved. Find Jodie's books at good-news-in-the-gum-trees-1.jimdosite.com.•