On Anger

I’m fairly certain that it’s safe to say that I’m not generally an angry person. I can’t remember the last time I yelled at someone, or the last time I was upset to the point of declaring myself “angry”. In my mind, I see anger as yelling, fighting, becoming physically upset or violent. I’m just not the sort of person who reacts in that way when conflict arises. First of all, nearly everyone I know has to ask me to speak up, so yelling is out of the question, and second, I’m 5’1 and the least intimidating person in the world. Up until recently, I just would have assumed that I don’t really get angry. That the most animated emotion I felt was frustration, and that was it.

That was, however, until I learned what anger really is. And when I learned this new definition of anger, I realized that I am in fact a fairly angry person at times.

Anger is an emotion just like any other. It doesn’t have a place in a filing cabinet somewhere inside of us, it’s just there. God has given anger to us to illicit some kind of warning. When someone gets angry when they are wronged, the anger warns them that things are not how they ought to be. Our bodies know when we’re angry. Our minds won’t move from a situation, and our temper becomes very thin. Anger isn’t bad in and of itself. We all can feel some kind of righteous anger when we’re wronged or when we see others being wronged. When an action takes place that goes against what we know to be the natural moral law, anger can result. Each one of us knows there is an innate sense of right and wrong in the world, and when that law is violated, we know it. We feel it. It causes us to react.

Recently, I have been trying to deal with a number of overwhelming life-situations in which I have been blatantly wronged, or someone I love has been wronged. I’ve noticed that these issues are not being resolved in the way I would like them to. I feel consistently frustrated and confused, and whenever I feel myself becoming angry (righteously so, for the most part) I instantly try to squash that feeling. I explain away people’s wrongdoings and sins against me/others in order to be a “proper” Christian. I douce people in grace in order to push the situation away. I might not be ready to forgive yet, but at least I can have some grace for that person. And it lasts for a while. But I find myself back in a position where I can no longer reconcile the actions of this person anymore. The truth of the matter is, if I were really in a position to show grace to a person, I would also be ready and willing to forgive them. But because I’m actually angry, that forgiveness isn’t readily available to me yet.

All of this is to say, I am angry. I am angry at people, with situations, with myself, and sometimes with God. I am learning to moderate and use that emotion to bring about healing, rather than have it destroy me. I am learning to take that anger as the warning I need to realize that things are not how they ought to be. I am also learning that God himself gets angry over the things that happen to his children. He is not okay with the situations in which people have deeply hurt me. Just like he wouldn’t be okay if I had deeply hurt someone else. He is a just God who wants good and right things for His children.

But forgiveness, grace, and reconciliation is the goal. Anger is just part of that process. Scripture says “be angry and do not sin” and this is to be taken into careful consideration. Let someone know that you’re angry. Open up that door for possible reconciliation and mutual forgiveness. But don’t absorb the wrongdoing of someone else, making it okay for others to treat you poorly, in the name of being a “proper” Christian. Righteous anger is a fine balance to strike, but we must do it. Always explaining away your anger and hurt feelings and looking to the “best” in the wrongdoer can be dangerous. Not always, but if it’s a consistent habit, then yes. There are some people who are not good to be around. Some wrongs that have been done to us that have natural consequences. Sometimes when people hurt us, there is not going to be a restored relationship. Sometimes that person isn’t actually a safe person to have in your life. And if such a person has hurt you, it’s okay to be angry about it.

And all of this is to say that I, Lena Rigby, am angry. And that’s okay. And I won’t be forever. And that’s okay too.

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