Posts Tagged ‘anger’

‘”My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you (James 1:19-21).”

I just took a minute and skimmed back over some of my journals from a year or two ago. It was pretty depressing.

I was at that point a rageaholic and a runner, i.e., when things went bad, I ran.  I have worked on both aspects of my character since, doing my best to change.

However,  I still have my moments with both, and the anger has had the worst effect. Without going into the details, let’s just say that allowing myself to vent one day recently, although I was in the right from my perspective, has cost me my job.

From the boss’s point of view, I have “popped my cork”, as he put it, once too often. In all the cases I did “pop my cork”, I saw myself as just. He didn’t see it that way.

Whether my anger was right or wrong  didn’t matter when it came to my workplace. What was unrighteous was the anger itself, at least in the eyes of my employer.

What “kills” me is that the type of incident that led to my demise was one I had planned to avoid. However, one day out of convenience, I took the risk and allowed my self to be in the situation which I knew could trigger my anger.

Sure enough, the ongoing, unresolved issue reared its ugly head that day and I lost it. When I was called on the carpet for it later, I had had enough, and did the other thing I am good at. I ran.

My apologies to my employer haven’t helped. From my boss’s point of view, I am just a loose cannon, a repeating one,  and on that he would rather do without in his shop.

Thus, I am now unemployed. I am now asking myself,”How’s all that anger working out for ya?”.

I know the answer to my own question. Not so well.

While I truly believe I have improved in controlling my rage, my track record had put me in something of a “zero tolerance” zone at work. When my volcano erupted, I was a “gonner”, despite having  just completed a successful project with kudos from my boss and my immediate supervisor.

Guess what? In general, anger is destructive. I experienced this myself this week in another arena from someone I didn’t know.

For whatever reason, a local policeman decided to hunt down his ex-wife and shoot her to death. He then ran, and while running, shot a state trooper chasing him.

This latter shooting was on the interstate where I happened to be at the time. My son and I were on the way to a ball game.

We never made it. We sat in a traffic backup for three hours while police handled the crime scene up ahead.

What was terrible about that incident was of course the death of a woman and the shooting of a police officer. But I was collateral damage, all because a man who should have known better couldn’t find a way to deal with his rage. Touche’.

My son and I wanted to spend some time together at something we both enjoy: baseball. Instead, we “fellowshipped” in a hot car with hundreds of others. A side effect to this policeman’s rage was causing problems for a multitude.

Anger in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. After all, most of what the Bible  has to say about anger has to do with God’s.

The difference between God and I when it comes to anger, however, is that His is righteous and mine is not. God’s anger tends to be directed at people that do harm to others.  The goal of my anger more often than not is to satisfy some selfishness of mine.

Jesus got angry, but His anger was the result of  the hardness of men’s hearts, who were of the sort who would prefer to keep some religious rule than allow for the healing of a fellow human being. Not only was He angry when some men were unhappy with his desire to heal a man on the Sabbath, he was “distressed” (Mark 3:5).

I think Jesus felt the way my pastor does when he sees humans acting wrongly. He told me recently that the way to control my temper is to grieve over the condition of  the people, not lash out at them in anger.

God’s anger is fierce, but the Bible has an interesting take on how He handles it. The Scriptures repeatedly say God is slow to anger and that He restrains it.

This aspect of God’s character is illustrated in the life of the prophet Jonah, told in the Bible book that bears his name.  Sometimes I think I should take on his name because I am like him.

First, the Bible tells us that Jonah ran when God gave him an assignment he didn’t relish. It took being swallowed by a big fish to get him to turn around and preach to an enemy — the people of Nineveh.

When Jonad DID preach to them, the people repented. As a result, God “relented” from destroying them as He had threatened to do.

So Jonah was ecstatic, right? No. The Bible tells how Jonah was affected by God’s patience with the people of Nineveh:

“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.  He prayed to the LORD, ‘Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live’.”

God’s response was to ask Jonah to think about the “rightness” of his anger a little;

 ” But the LORD replied, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ ”

Jonah had an anger problem, and it tended to be of the selfish variety. While he waited outside the city, probably expecting God to waste it, it became hot and the Lord provided him with some covering through a plant.

Then, God took the plant away. Jonah reacted this way,”It would be better for me to die than to live”. He pouted.

God took the plant away to make Jonah face his anger and understand God’s viewpoint concerning it. Here’s how the book of Jonah ends:

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

   “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

  But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.  And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

God took Jonah’s plant away to make him look in the mirror and deal with his unrighteous anger, and understand His own attitude toward lost humans.

Like Jonah, I think perhaps God took away something very important to me -my job – to make me FINALLY do something about my own anger and self righteousness and to begin to learn to love people.

At my workplace, my boss sets the tone. It is HE who decides how matters get handled in the office

What is important to him is the relationships there. In comparision, what I deem “right” policies and procedures are secondary. I may not like it, but HE is the boss and has the right to operate the way he sees fit.

The analogy to my interaction with God and my fellows is clear. He  sets the pace in HOW to live my Christian life.

In God’s scheme of things, He would prefer  that I be patient with people, even the  intolerable ones, grieve over their condition, and be compassionate.

The Bible doesn’t say if Jonah learned to follow God’s pattern or not. The book of Jonah just ends as I revealed above.

I hope the sequel to my own story works out in such a way that my life from here on out shows I learned the lesson God had for me. It may have taken losing my job to learn this lesson, but in the long run, I expect it will be worth it.


Read Full Post »

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you (James 1:19-21).”

Last week I was sitting in a men’s group discussing manhood. We had all arrived at our church at 6 am to watch a video and then discuss it.

In my small group, we were discussing the notion made by the speaker at the beginning of the video that no man is perfect. After watching the rest of the video, however, we had felt that this is what was being required of us.

In our eyes we were expected to be all things to all men and women. Metaphors were used. We were to be kings, lovers and warriors. The inclination of at least a couple of us in the group, the older fogeys, was,”I thought he said we didn’t have to be perfect.”

In my little male brain, though, I have figured out that this is what I am expecting of other people. I want them to be perfect. So if that is my expectation of others, then why shouldn’t I expect that of myself?

Part of my problem is my life is that  I do. I expect myself to be perfect. Subliminally,  as I said above, I require it of others, also.

I think I have set myself up for a fall in a fallen world. No one in any part of my life is perfect.

Want some examples? My kids lose my prized possessions. My coworkers don’t keep the rules although I am expected to. A driver breaks the law and then yells at me over my driving.

My response to all this injustice? I get teed off. I seek revenge. I require high expectations of others, and when they don’t meet them I get spout off in rage.

This is no way to live. Walking around with bulging veins coming out of my neck is counterproductive.

It’s time for a little perspective. First, I have to realize I am not the cat’s meow myself. Who am I to yell at another person? 

Solomon wrote:

“There is not a righteous man on earth
       who does what is right and never sins.

Do not pay attention to every word people say,
       or you may hear your servant cursing you-

for you know in your heart
       that many times you yourself have cursed others (Ecclesiastes 7:20-22).”

Second, I am not the arbitrator in all cases. There are bosses, police officers and counselors there to settle disputes in their realms of expertise and authority. That’s what they get paid for.

Third, when Adam and Eve took a bite of that apple, the world fell into a state of collapse. This place is under a curse.

In fact, God subjected the world to this fallen state in hope of redemption, so who am I to try and correct it (Ecclesiastes 7:13)? One day it will all be resolved under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

In the meantime, while I am waiting for that day, I need to take a chill pill when I am treated badly and when others don’t jump through my hoops.

Solomon also wrote:

 ” Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
       for anger resides in the lap of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:9).”

There you have it. I’m a dope if I let this fallen world get to me.

Ultimately, only God has the right to be ticked off. It’s better I let Him take care of his realm on His own, without my hypocritical help.

He doesn’t need me to right all the wrongs in this world. He’s in charge of cleaning up this mess we’ve made of things.

In the end, all of the dirt will come out in His wash. My job is to be the best “me” I can be and not require perfection from others, or myself.

Read Full Post »

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).”

Flight attendant Steven Slater is the latest in the long line of pop culture celebrities. What did Slater do to receive such attention?

What Slater is being applauded for his losing it with a passenger, cursing out a whole planeload of people, grabbing some beers from the pantry, and then opening the emergency chute and sliding out of the plane. What a country!

Slater was quoted in the New York “Daily News”: “I lost patience after a female passenger had an argument with another passenger and then opened the bin door, hitting me on the head without apologizing.” .

According to the newspaper, Slater then declared, “I’ve had it. That’s it,” witnesses said. By all accounts the passenger he dealt with was beyond the pale in her own behavior as well.

The story has become a wordwide situation. Many are hailing Slater as a hero because he had the courage to do what they always have wanted to do: melt down.

The plaudits he is receiving is reminiscent of Howard Beale’s famous outburtst in the move “Network”. The character popularized the phrase,”I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”

Beale became a national sensation in the movies, just as Slater has in real life. His TV networks ratings soared afterward, and he received his own show.

Slater’s Mom, when interviewed by the media, said her son deserved his meltdown. Diane Slater said, “I would have snapped, too.”

What else would one expect a mother to say.  However, I am not sure Slater’s Heavenly Father was amused by Mr. Slater’s harangue.

When a person gets angry and loses it, lashing out at others, God doesn’t approve. He doesn’t clap, he rebukes.

Cain learned this the hard way. He was unhappy with God applauding his brother Abel’s service, but rejecting his. God said to Cain,

“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it (Genesis 4:6).”

Cain didn’t heed God’s advice. He lured his brother Abel out to a field and killed him in a fit of jealousy and rage (Genesis 4:8).

God punished Cain for this. He turned his work into hard labor and sent him away from His presence (Genesis 4:10-16).

Isn’t it ironic that the difficulties Steven Slater encountered on his job are the result of a similar meltdown ages earlier. The world is in a sense cursed, and this includes the work.

The outpouring for Slater includes flight attendants. They are saying, to paraphrase,”Look, those passengers deserved it. They act like animals.”

There is some truth to this. We humans do treat each other poorly. Our love had indeed grown cold. The Spinners sang about how people mess with their own kind:

“Why do you use me try to confuse me
How can you stand to be so cruel
Why don’t you free me from this prison
Where I serve my time as your fool”

The song is called “It’s a Shame”. It is a shame that Slater got treated as he did.

Still, the wise man of Proverbs says that a godly person is one who learns how to deal with the abuse.  He notes, “With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous escape (Proverbs 11:9).”

Our biblical wise guy would have told Steven Slater to get some understanding. If he had, the cat would have got his tongue and he would have kept quiet (Proverbs 11:12).

It’s hard for me to criticize Slater. I’m a man with a rage problem myself. In fact, I am suffering the consequences of my ungodly manic displays at the present time.

I should have known. The proverbial wise man has warned about how unkind behavior can boomerang (Provberbs 11:17).

It would have been better if, instead of grabbing some Budweisers and fleeing the plane, Slater had done his job and offered some refreshment to his passengers.

Maybe he wouldn’t have become a pop culture hero, but he would have been a better man for it.

Read Full Post »

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).”

Tthe last couple of weeks I have twice lost my temper, badly.  Sadly, these fits of rage have occurred with my family.

I have been working hard at controlling myself of late, so I have been wondering where all this wrath comes from.  Is this intense anger genetic, originating from my Irish roots? (They don’t call it IREland for nothing.)  Am I mad at my mommy and daddy, as psyschiatrists might have me believe?    Or am I just plain insane?  After all, an archaic term for insanity was “rage”.

I’m not taking anabolic steroids.  If I were this might explain my fury.  I could write it off to “roid rage”.

It could be I have a disease.  The etymology of the word ‘”rage” includes rabia, the Latin root of the term “rabies”.  So maybe I have become like a mad dog because one bit me in my sleep.

Or maybe I’m mad at God, and therefore I  take it out on my the nearest target, my fam.  After all, the Bible shows that people get get mad at Him (Job 15:12,13).

Whatever is causing my fury, I have to get a handle on it.  It’s not good for my health for one.  Anger increases the heart rate and blood pressure. 

Some people can’t even turn off their fury.  According to the famous website “How Stuff Works”, these folks may not be able to produce a hormone called  acetylcholine, which limits the effects of adrenaline. As a result, they stress their onw hearts and stiffen their arteries.

What is worse than the physical effects of my rage is what I know its doing to my family and my other relationships.  The same website says:

“Chronically angry people may have built up years of expecting to be disappointed and frustrated by events around them. These people react more angrily to even small stressful events, but in doing so, they create even more reasons to be angry. Individuals with higher anger describe higher levels of family conflict and lower levels of social support because of the effect their anger has on those around them.”

What is ironic about raging at other people is how hypocritical it is. Judah was ready to burn his daughter in-law Tamar at the stake when he was told she was pregnant out of wedlock.  Then he learned that he was the father (Genesis 38:15-26).  People even get mad at God when they are only just reaping the results of their stupidity (Proverbs 19:3).

 Rageaholics tend to go to extremes in their anger, also. They do not fit the punisment to the perceived crime. For example, God allowed Israel to punish their brethren from Judah because of their sin, but they overdid it.  They enslaved them.  God was not a happy camper.

He sent a prophet to rebuke Israel.  The prophet said to them, “Because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand. But you have slaughtered them in a rage that reaches to heaven (II Chronicles 28:9).”

God also got angry at Edom for their ongoing destructive rage against their blood relatives from Israel. He said, “For three sins of Edom, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath . Because he pursued his brother with a sword, stifling all compassion, because his anger raged continually and his fury flamed unchecked (Amos 1:11).”

I am as hypocritical as these biblical folks were.  I get mad at my family when they are late, bicker with each other, or slow my progress. Yet, I operate on my own selfish schedule, argue with them myself and hinder their goals, also.  

I also tend to mete out massive punishments for slight offenses. I am ready to give out a week of house arrest for a small tussle between the kids.

Look, God obviously doesn’t approve of my unjust rage and punishments. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have told his people, “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Colossians 3:8).”

What’s the solution?  How do I do my part and get rid of the rage.

If I had all the answers I wouldn’t be throwing hissy fits. However, I do think am getting better.  My anger events are less frequent and less intense overall.

One thing that I believe has helped me contain my fury is medicine.  Not everyone agrees with its use, but I think it has kept a lid on my rage. Yesterday, I felt like a boiling pot, but I didn’t melt down to the point of doing something really stupid.

The other factor that has definitely helped is that I am seeking the Lord out more than ever before. His Spirit within me frees me from self condemnation and helps me to move on from my rage events.  The Holy Spirit I also believe is supernaturally helping me with my anger as I walk with Him (Romans 8:1-10).”

Even so, I want my ire events to cease completely. I know God isn’t pleased with them.  I don’t want Him to say to me “I know where you live. Don’t make me come down there”, as He did with the enemies of Israel  (II Kings 19:27).

God cares for the downtrodded and oppressed, and He cares for His people.  He said of Israel,

“Their people, drained of power, 
 are dismayed and put to shame. 
 They are like plants in the field, 
  like tender green shoots, 
 like grass sprouting on the roof, 
 scorched before it grows up (II Kings 19:26).”

This is a good description of my family at the moment. They are worn out.

God cares for my wife and kids, and so do I. They are precious to Him and to me. I am responsible for them before God.  Therefore, I don’t want to add to their problems with my temper tantrums.

I may be walking with the Spirit, but I tend to be a bit behind Him. It’s time I catch up.

Read Full Post »