The number of angry people these days is astonishing to me. I think religion, politics, the redefinition of some words and relationships, and different opinions on social justice issues are some of the biggest reasons. But as I often have told my kids, with anger I’m only hurting myself.
This was repeated to my kids quite a bit as they grew up. Friends, teachers and relatives would make them mad. Not sure where it came from, but it just came out of my mouth one day. I told them that the people they were mad with, especially if they didn’t talk with them about it, may not know, or care that they were feeling that way. Carrying it with them, was only effecting them. Not in a good way.
The phrase has come in handy recently for me on the job. I am working again with someone who used to be my manager. Because of the way things were going at work during that time, in addition to some things happening in my home, I had gained 40 pounds. I was physically in the worst shape I had ever been. I’m very thankful that I turned to food rather than alcohol or medication, which would have been very easy to do, but I never want to be there again. I was not happy that this recent project had made me mad. I was only hurting myself again and had to find a way to stop.
Often when reading or hearing the parable of the prodigal son, I identify with the son that is not the prodigal son. “He became angry, and refused…” (Luke 15:28). When I get angry, I tend to withdraw and not talk about it… mistake #1. At times I find becoming quiet and withdrawn, plus praying for the person I’m mad at, is the best I can do. But, when eating filled the space that a discussion should have filled… well, that’s mistake #2 toward a downhill spiral.
Jesus got angry. It’s OK. We can not control our emotions. I had to ask myself, is there a way to get over it without hurting myself or others in the process? I think so. After overturning tables and seats (Mk 3:5) Jesus healed. He taught and asked people to read scripture (Mt 21:12-13) and He prayed. Sounded like a plan!
I’m not saying that a discussion with the person who made you angry is always necessary. Sometimes it’s not even possible. But, sharing what makes you angry, including with trusted friends and family, clergy and other professionals can help with the healing of many. Teaching other ways of looking at a situation, after reading scripture for insight on the best way to treat others, and praying are always possible. At work, putting this plan into action has given me and some of the other members of my team the ability to more clearly analyze the data and articulate the results in a professional manner. This is leading to success on the project without the finger pointing and anger.
Getting over it and letting it go can, and most times will, take a very long time. Since with anger you only hurt yourself, it’s needed. And you’re worth not having that burden weighing on you. Heal, teach, read and pray.