Anger and Outrage

Anger is such a quick path to emotion, and it can be intoxicating. I myself have been quicker to anger than to patience and understanding, and in particular that anger is often directed towards strangers. It can be addictive. It can feel cathartic to rage and rail against someone that cut you off in traffic, or someone who showed you a moment of rudeness. But the person I hurt the most with my quick anger is myself. Myself and my Lord.

Anger can also be a habit. We swear in unbecoming language, we seethe, we grit our teeth against each other and against the world, and we do it so often that it becomes our first natural reaction to minuscule hardships. I might snap at the quickest interruption in my day. Any perceived slight becomes a source of indignation at the least, and rage at the worst. Frustration begets frustration. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. (Thank you, Yoda.)

I have been guilty of feeling right and righteous for my own personal reasons, instead of being upstanding and righteous before God. I have thought that my intelligence and discipline gave me the right to feel anger towards my fellows. And that anger was a cloak pulled over my heart; perhaps I thought it was a shroud protecting me from the world, but in the end it was keeping me from my own life. Two verses come to mind:

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)

and also:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

There are times when anger is unavoidable. I am human, and I have my limits. But I believe that if I am aware of my own limitations, and know that every other human is likewise limited, I will be quicker to listen and to forgive than I will be to hastily judge in outrage. Taking every slight personally can only lead to darkening my heart. Instead, I will endeavor to stay my tongue and accept that slights by those who cross my path are inevitable, as are my own mistakes in their own lives. I will renew my commitment to patience every time I flash to anger without true cause. Would I want to be treated with that same anger, if the fault were mine? Of course not.

The answer is that simple.

God’s forgiveness is a beacon, and an example which I should strive to reflect. I want my soul to be on fire, but with love, and not with anger. In a life where every moment is precious, I have time only for joy, and no time at all for misplaced rage.

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