We all struggle with anger sometimes, maybe there is someone at work who gets under our skin, maybe it’s an injustice carried out against you, maybe it’s just a perceived wrong done to us, whatever it is we have to struggle with anger. I remember once when I was really angry with someone a friend and mentor said to me ‘remember to keep it righteous’. That’s hard, often even if the anger comes from a totally deserved place it slides quickly into being an unhealthy anger. A husband cheats on his wife, she’s the wronged party and has every right to be angry, then she uses that anger to hurt him, turn the kids against him, his friends… you get the idea. She was righteous in her anger but her reactions to the anger are not righteous.
I have found myself angry many times in the last few years, mad in general mostly, stressed out and frustrated, but there have been moments, sometimes people who have instilled genuine righteous anger in me. These moments, mostly based in hurt if I am honest, or pure frustration, lead me to anger, and I have never coped well with with that particular feeling. I hate confrontation, I struggle with sharing ‘unhappy’ feelings with people, especially when I know that it will have an emotional impact on one or both parties. Usually this causes me to remain silent, which for an extrovert leads to bottled anger, ready to explode at any moment. When the top goes, look out because an emotional response is about to rain down.
Now, I realize this is totally an unhealthy response to anger, were I normal, I would simply go to the person or source of those unwanted feelings and simply tell them that I was hurt, or angered by their actions, slighted, annoyed, utterly incredulous at the things people do or say and their reasons for doing them. However, I am not that person so I sit with the anger. So, how do I change? How do I allow my anger to come out in a more healthy and righteous way? In a way that won’t hurt people, in a way that allows me the freedom of honesty without the burden of emotional angst? I wish I had answers to these questions because there have been nights that I have lost sleep, my gut churning in anger, my frustration so palpable it takes on a life of it’s own; in these moments I have conversations in my head with the people involved, the ones who have gone too far, said too much, not said enough or just flat out hurt me, and I tell them what I think, how I feel. The anger does not subside though because I know that those words will never reach the ears of the one who needs to hear it and it leaves me, drained and pumped up all at once.
Now, all this being said. I believe that anger can be a beautiful and healthy thing, standing up for yourself, not allowing people to treat you poorly, or bully you, that is important. I believe in grace, but grace is not grace without wrath. There are times when anger is called for, when it’s healthy, when it’s normal. The trick is to handle the emotion with gentle hands, with kid gloves so to speak, and carefully tread through the mine field of anger making sure that you don’t lash out, that you don’t use revenge, that you don’t ‘sin’ in your anger. This is where I have much to learn…