I had a spout of anger this week that I worked hard at keeping in control. I did manage to control it but now I am asking myself if it was worth the side effects. I never really thought about the side effects of anger before. I am not an angry person. Over the years I have discovered that most things we get angry about are not worth the energy.
Seriously, someone cuts you off on the road it's not a big deal. It wasn't personal. They don't know you. They are just in a hurry for whatever reason and are taking advantage of whatever opportunity they can to get ahead. Maybe they just got the news that their child was hit by a car or maybe their boss told them that if they are late one more time they will be fired.
Benefit of the doubt; that's how I usually handle a response to such actions.
However, this week I felt my rights and the rights of my family were violated. There was the briefest moment when I had a choice to let it go or to allow myself to get angry. Notice I said "allow" because in order for me to get angry I have to work at it. I made the decision to get angry, determined I could do what the Word of God says:
In your anger do not sin. (Psalm 4:4)
Ii is an instruction that is repeated by Paul in Ephesians 4:26. So, it's okay to get angry, just don't sin. I imagined my anger was a righteous anger and that I could control it. Even though I think I managed to not sin in my anger I came pretty close but the thing is, I wasn`t counting on the effects of this anger after the flames died down..
First of all I had no idea that once that flame is lit it can become such a roaring fire that threatens to consume everything. That fire is difficult to put out once lit, burning for a very long time and it needs fuel to keep burning. It takes a lot of energy to be angry. Soon you start feeling tired, empty and emotionally drained if not depressed. No kidding, I didn`t do a single physical thing yesterday yet I fell into bed physically and emotionally exhausted. I had nothing left.
Second, I very much dislike the residue of anger. After the fire has gone out and the smoke has dissipated there is a sick residue that is left. I sit and wonder what I accomplished, was it worth it, being dissatisfied with myself, wondering if I robbed Jesus of any of his glory? Is my testimony still intact or do I look like a complete idiot with no grace or compassion? I am left thinking "I don't like myself right now". Yet, I did not sin. I did not destroy anyone. I did not tear anyone down, call them names or even disrespect them. I did not curse God in any of this. But I did step out of my character, I raised my force, I pushed for my rights, I was not kind or compassionate and I was not patient. I did not show love. I made my needs and the needs of may family take priority over profit line of a business but in the process I lost something.
The problem is I allowed the situation to change my character. I allowed it to spring board me into reacting in a manner that is unnatural to my norm. At the end of the day my anger accomplished nothing and it left me feeling less than 100% a mighty warrior of God. I understand a bit better what Paul was writing about when he said to the Corinthians:
“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. (1 Corinthians 10:23)
Without a doubt it was permissible for me to become angry and fight for my rights but at the end of the day it is not my rights that matter. I must ask myself if it was at all beneficial or constructive. Looking at how I am feeling now, the low point of my energy, the time that was lost and the hardening heart of the business I was dealing with, I would say no, there was no benefit physically or spiritually. Prayer would have been the much better option. If someone else had been in my situation perhaps it would have been good to become angry but knowing who I am, the character God has developed in me, and the effects of anger on this character, I made a wrong choice. But praise the Lord, his mercies are new every morning.