The other day my husband told me about another marriage in trouble. Seems the grass was looking a lot greener on the other side of the fence! Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear of another betrayal. Another devastated family. One spouse walks out. The other spouse and children (if any) are left in shambles. That’s the nature of marriage ministry I suppose, but it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, I find myself getting angry. I want to slap somebody! And don’t get me started on how I feel about the other woman or the other man! Steam creeps up my neck when I think about the utter selfishness of entering into any type of affair with someone who is already married! Grrrrrrr!
I often joke with my husband that he wouldn’t want me for a counseling client. I’d probably do everything wrong. I’d hunt down the other woman, punch her in the throat so she couldn’t run away, then give her a tongue lashing that would curl her hair and fry her eardrums. Or something like that. My husband just shakes his head and tells me that acting out of hurt and anger doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t change things, it only makes the situation worse. Well, that may be true, but I’d feel better at least. Or would I?
Do I feel better when I yell at the stupid driver that cut me off as he makes a crazy zigzag pattern through the rush hour freeway traffic? Do I feel better when I hear the political talking heads scream at one another over issues they will never solve? Do I feel better when I’ve held grudges over perceived hurts from people who should have known better? Do I feel better for having stomped around the house grumbling at my husband for being too busy to help me with computer issues? Oh, wait. That last one happened this morning. I did feel better. For about five minutes. Now I feel sheepish. So the answer is a resounding NO! I don’t feel better. I feel bitter, frustrated, and discouraged when I dwell on those things that cause me to feel angry.
Life gives us plenty of reasons to become angry. And stay angry. But that’s no way to live. We have all heard how anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness kills us from the inside out. High blood pressure, ulcers, and even cancer have been linked to unresolved anger issues. Unresolved anger takes root inside of us and grows. It takes control. We are now the slave of anger.
I was pondering this the other day. I have a tendency to feel anger quickly. I’m more reactionary rather than a slow simmer type of person. I don’t blow my top, but the feelings rush in. I don’t like these knee jerk reactions. They’re not something I’m proud of. In fact, I’ve begun to pray and ask the Lord to change me. I want to be patient, merciful, and gracious, because I want to receive patience, mercy, and grace from others. Then a lightning bolt hit me out of the blue. Not really. I read a Facebook posting from a friend.
“He who angers you conquers you.” Elizabeth Kenny
Simple, but profound. Think about it for a minute. To conquer means to gain victory over; surmount; master; overcome. If I remain angry with someone I have given that person mastery over my thoughts and emotions. I am no longer in control. Anger, and by default the person I am angry at, is in control. That doesn’t sit well with me. I am the original “You’re not the boss of me!” person. But when I am angry, I am not the boss of my emotions. I then do things, or think things, or say things that I will later regret.
I wish I could tell you that my life was instantly and irrevocably changed with that realization. Sadly, I can’t. Happily, I can say with all sincerity that I’ve been praying about this very thing and meditating on God’s word regarding anger. I am a work in progress. Slow progress at times, but I’ll take what I can get!
The Bible tells me it is okay to be angry, just don’t sin in my anger. (Eph. 4:26) Proverbs 29:11, reminds me that “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” So, bottom line, I can feel those angry emotions. I am human. I have a choice, though, to hold on to that anger or to release it to God. I can trust Him with the solution knowing that, after all, He is the one in control, not me. I am confident in God’s sovereignty.
The only down side is that I do not have permission to punch anyone in the throat*.
No matter how much they deserve it.
I guess I can live with that.
(*Just trying to be humorous people! I am not advocating violence of any kind.)