Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Anger: A Problem or Catalyst?

As I write this I can see the gentle falling of the rain outside through the window nearby.  I find myself wishing I was out there rather than in here.  To just sit and soak for a little while lost in my thought with no one around, just me and God.

However, life doesn’t really allow for such flippant displays of emotion at the moment.  I guess I’ll have to add that on my list of why it sometimes sucks to be an adult.

I find myself feeling worn out lately.  In turn I have found it difficult to write much of anything here on this blog, but I always find it a source of catharsis to get my thoughts out and it can also double as a great place to have (or start) conversation so I find myself here once again.

The pastor at the church I attend has been preaching on the “seven deadly sins”, or (more accurately I believe) the seven core sins.  The series has been somewhat fascinating as I have never had a pastor speak on them in such detail and because I have enjoyed his point of view of them.  This past week he spoke of anger and some of the reasons people get angry.  The overarching reason was that anger happens when a goal/expectation is blocked by something/someone, and his example was that of someone being really hungry and seeing a beautiful apple tree with ripe apples that was blocked by a wall that could not be climbed over.

Most simplistic summary ever.

Anyway, he mentioned three sources of anger that are common, but I wanted to touch on one in particular because of my own experiences with it.

Probably one of the biggest reasons I’ve ever seen anyone get angry is because they have been hurt.  Whether it was through a bad relationship with a friend or significant other, or through a terrible experience with parents, etc. people tend to let their hurt play out in their anger.  Consequentially, this is also brought on by unforgiving attitudes as well.  How often do we say something just to be hurtful?

“Remember how you did ‘x’?”  “That was over 10 years ago, and what about ‘x’?”

Back and forth it goes in one vicious circle and nothing gets done except causing more hurt, and it is so easy to let that hurt fester and boil until it becomes a bitterness and resentment that is near impossible to hide.  I find a lot of people I know who are jaded about something have some bitterness toward it.  This also happens to be one of the forms of anger that I struggle with the most because I tend to internalize all of my anger and frustration because I find that exploding on others is more detrimental than helpful, however, if I don’t do anything to resolve my anger internally it will eventually lead to explosive anger so internalizing is just as dangerous.

I find myself under constant watch of myself lately because of this very tendency.  I don’t know if life in general has just been beating me up, or if I am slowly becoming a grouchy old man, but either way it requires constant vigilance to watch the words I speak, how I speak them, and to whom I speak them.  Oftentimes I fail, and the only thing I can do is thank God for his patience with me, stand back up and brush the dust off.

Anger is not inherently evil, or even a bad thing.  Even Jesus got angry (very angry sometimes).  It is all about how we channel that anger.  It can be a powerful tool that stirs us out of our slumber and into action.  And there are times when we should be angry, even outraged.  Sex trafficking makes me incredibly angry (and should do the same for you), slavery makes me angry, racism makes me angry, bullying makes me angry, any form of prejudice or hatred displayed to those who are different or you don’t agree with.  All these things bring a side of me that is not normally visible out.  There is nothing wrong with anger.

My problem (and all of you can probably relate on some level), is that I let me anger get the best of me at times and I end of saying or doing things that I regret later.  Because while I may have meant what I said, I may not have meant it the way it was said (such a fine line).

How do we deal with anger like that?  I know what I do personally, but I know there isn’t any one “right” way to do it.  I’m sure we could all agree that there are wrong ways to handle it, but what about the good ways?  Sometimes, my anger leads me to cleaning up around the house, sometimes it leads to my writing, and other times I just have to seclude myself in my room or somewhere and just listen to some music quietly while I exhaust my anger at the ceiling with my rampaging thoughts.  If I get to that point, I won’t leave my spot until my mind has calmed down sufficiently that I’m not thinking about the event that made me angry.

I find that this become especially true when dealing with others.  Sometimes my anger is justifiable, and sometimes I’m frustrated over the most inane thing.  For instance, when people leave cabinet doors open (anywhere not just at home) I feel a spike of anger.  Doesn’t make a drop of sense to me, but it happens, so I close the door and move on without saying much if anything, but other times something happens and my anger builds and I can immediately pinpoint the reasons why I’m angry and they are good, logical even, and just.  Yet, when dealing with people I have to balance whether or not it is worth the fight that would ensue if I bring up my anger.

Suffice to say most days I keep it to myself (and my wife too sometimes).

How do you deal with anger?  What are some of the reasons you get angry (reasonable or silly)?

Grace and Peace

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