“I have had an outburst of anger that I’m not proud of admitting,” I told Ed my old neighbour in Saskatchewan. He wasn’t surprised because he knows I suffer from the occasional thunderstorm of temper. My anger can come up fast or simmer and then boil over, causing a mess rather than serving a useful purpose.
Ed said to me, “Is this ‘Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song?’ You used to sing to me how somebody did you wrong after you had a fit of anger.”
“I thought my temper was tamed down, but it is as wild as ever. I can have weeks, days and months of keeping my anger down to manageable exasperation, moderate annoyance, and just a bit of sticky resentment, but then when it seems the lid is on OK, my anger explodes and my thunder rolls at others. They may be asking themselves, “Where did this nut case come from?”
Ed understands losing control of his anger and reacting uselessly. He is embarrassed by one of his fits of road rage. His wrath doesn’t bother him if he is by himself, but he exploded once when others were with him. He was driving a car full of relatives to a wedding reception in Edmonton. His aunts and his grandmother were with him. Ed has no patience for drivers in Edmonton and the endless, busy, traffic there.
Long story short, Ed felt that a car had cut him off in traffic and he hit the brakes and the horn. He let loose at the other driver with a blue streak of curses that had the devil blushing. Ed realized that inside his car, it was deadly quiet, his grandmother spoke up. She said to Ed, “Never assume the other driver cut you off on purpose. See it as unintentional and that you could make such a mistake yourself some time. Swearing like the devil isn’t the answer to your anger in front us or yourself.”
Feelings of anger, joy, fear, sadness, loneliness, etc. are experienced by everyone. Is anger one of our most unhealthy emotions if not handled wisely? Does it have the power to destroy relationships and to be life-changing negatively? Anger may be a valid feeling, but it can be opening a floodgate. Our anger released can sweep us up and far beyond what we intended.
The Bible is rich in wisdom in our need to deal wisely with our angry feelings. The book of James cautions us, “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Anger can blur the thinking of those who are angry. Jesus said, “Anyone angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” We think of murder as serious and wrong before God and man, but murder comes from anger, turned into hate that leads to murder. Proverbs teaches us, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
Thomas A’ Kempis directs us: “Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”