Generally I’m fairly good at staying calm. Even under the most trying of situations, the worst that usually comes from me is irritated, blunt shortness or comments that I haven’t properly thought through, but rarely full-blown anger. But when a series of (usually insignificant) events pile up I do occasionally feel the rage. Today’s burst of anger was spurred on by a particularly ridiculous series of events:
First lay in for weeks disturbed by the dogs barking – the cereal I liked had run out (I told you it was ridiculous) – lost both games of FIFA (a football game) that I played – went to run a bath and the hot water ran out – tried to study but my room was too messy – tidied my room but then house is so noisy it’s too hard to study – my bedroom door creaked for about five seconds every time I walked through it – went to put my clothes in the wash but there was other stuff in the washing machine.
I cannot begin to tell you how embarrassing it is writing those things down. It’s funny how such trivial things caused me to see red. For about ten minutes I was slamming around, hopelessly gripped by my frustrations until eventually those feelings subsided and I returned to my usual self. It got my thinking about the concept of anger.
A googled definition of ‘anger’ is ‘a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.’ Anger is usually a negative thing, but I think it can also have positive outcomes if we react well to the emotions we feel. Think about it – anger is a fantastic catalyst for change. Anger towards racism and sexism prompted seismic shifts in the norms of our culture. Anger at human trafficking prompted the fantastic work of an organisation called ‘Hope For Justice‘. Anger at my messy room prompted me to tidy it. When we channel our anger into positive and constructive behaviour it can lead to good things.
However, the problem with anger is that often it clouds our judgement. It can cause us to react in ways that we wouldn’t normally dream of with a clear head. Anger and violence often go hand in hand. It’s the ‘hostility’ part of the definition that causes the problems.
The Bible tells us to get rid of all rage and anger altogether. My challenge for me (and for you if you choose to accept it) is to try and channel out any hostility and use any annoyance and displeasure that I feel purely as a catalyst for positive change. Whenever I feel frustrated, I’m going to ask the following questions:
- Why am I feeling like this?
- What change is required?
- What can I do to ensure I don’t feel this way again?
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.