As I headed into church yesterday, I sent out an honest tweet that spoke to a sudden burst of anger I am currently experiencing. Yep…I did say that. I am currently in angry mode. Don’t get me wrong — I am not excited about it. But it is the truth. I would love to ignore this feeling that I have, but it is not going away. So why would I tweet about it? Why would I blog about it?
For better or for worse, I am actually making up for a mistake I have made in my preaching over the last few years. Several times, I have used illustrations or suggested points that would give the impression that I believed we as Christ-followers should bury our anger. Somewhere down the line, I started to believe that feeling angry was a sin. Therefore, I preached it. I have spent years taking my anger and burying it.
No wait! It was never truly buried. It always showed up in other ways and at other times. Since I was in middle school, any time I convinced myself I was not angry (when indeed I was), that feeling emerged none the less. It never went away and it was more than likely taken out on some innocent victim or non-related situation. And yet, until recently I truly believed that anger, in all forms, was bad. But things are a changing…
Yesterday, as I drove around Jacksonville, I re-listened to The Healing of Anger by Tim Keller. It may have been the fourth time I have listened to it, but it was like I was hearing it for the first time. Tim reminded me of the scriptures that speak to our anger, specifically, “Be angry and do not sin…” (Ephesians 4:26) and “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32). Tim teaches that the proper response to anger is not to stuff it or to simply vent it (which is probably what I was doing with that tweet), but to invest it. I am learning that submitting my anger to God has less to do with ignoring it and more to do with praying through it. And to really pray through it is not a holiday folks. Confessing my anger, to God or to others, is the one of the most vulnerable things I could ever do.
So here is the point — if you are ignoring your anger, it is not going away. And if you are simply venting it, more than likely you are not dealing with it or addressing it appropriately. We have to first take our anger to the One who has turned His anger away from us. It is God who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” If we are willing to be taught, He will teach us how to wisely deal and process this dangerous feeling of anger.
As for me, I am as always on the journey. Today, I am reflecting on “for this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” (2 Corinthians 4:17). I am keeping my anger in balance with the truth that I am blessed with a supportive family, amazing friends, a phenomenal community to lead and the most loving local church ever. I still love my life…even when I am a little angry. Yep, God is still making all things new.
PS For all of those concerned, I am fine. Prayer and scripture reading will keep me from blowing up in public or speeding down the highway. Thanks for reading.