When I was in high school, one of my good friends drove my car for lunch down to the local hamburger joint and back, but failed to return my keys to me after school. He then left with my keys and my car, with his heap left in the school parking lot, the keys on the seat and a paper airplane stuck in the ignition. I lost my shipoopy. I knew he had to return to school later that evening for an event, so I made sure I came back, dropped off his jalopy and found my car sitting up on a 10″ curb, filled with other people’s belongings. I stormed in, got him to peek his head around the door, thinking he was quite funny and clever, and when he saw my face, he quickly shut the door and refused to come out. He sent someone else out with the keys instead. I quickly emptied my car of the items into the nearby mud puddle and left with my vehicle, so angry I couldn’t see straight.
This episode illustrates my usual explosion where anger was concerned. It only happened every few years or so, but when it did, yikes. We did end up mending fences, but he was wary of ever attempting a stunt like that again.
Growing up, I learned from my mom it was okay to be angry, but to not ever really show it, until the precise moment that it could do the most damage. The emotion wasn’t truly genuine at that point, it was manufactured and manipulated for the maximum effect. That may explain why genuine anger was so frowned upon. Anyway, I grew up bottling my anger, and then exploding like Mount Vesuvius, covering everything in my path with ash and hot lava. Much regret usually followed, and the cycle would begin again.
I heard tonight in a meeting that anger is a “God-sized emotion.” We humans don’t handle it very well. The bible tells us in our anger do not sin and not to let the sun go down on it. But anger has caused a lot of wreckage in my life. I got married out of fear and anger toward my mom when she tried to manipulate me into leaving college and returning home to my position as head codependent to her addiction. I stayed in an abusive relationship out of anger, because my mom had told my grandmother that my marriage would not last six months and if it did, it would be to spite her. Ouch.
In anger, I yelled mean, hurtful things to my kids that I cannot take back. Really, the list goes on for days. I rarely have an angry moment where sin is not involved. When I entered recovery, I was fearful of facing my anger and the sin that went with it. I felt like once I popped the lid off that baby, there’d be no end to the bubbling, toxic, steaming goo that would pour forth out of me. But I didn’t dissolve into goo and gunk. I wasn’t destroyed. God was there through the process, because I followed the steps, and released my anger the way He said to, in a way that honored Him, myself and others.
Now, when I feel angry, I can identify where it’s coming from and why, and deal with it quickly and appropriately. I rarely get really angry these days. Frustrated, a bit irritated about stupid stuff, yes. Feeling like I want to rip someone’s arm off and beat them with it, no. So I am grateful for the fruits of gentleness and long-suffering. I have sure needed it for this season of my life.
Much love, and big hugs my good friends!