Friday, July 6, 2012
(Un) Justified Anger
I remember hearing that Beth Moore was going to be doing a study on James and thinking to myself that it would be the most in-your-face thing since Dr. Phil. I mean good night, if you've ever done a Beth Moore study you know that she is going to bring it, and James is the single most convicting, knee-you-in-the-gut book of the Bible. Together, they make for a rather intense time.
I signed up to go through the study at my church this summer, knowing that it was going to kick my spiritual tail with it's truths, and boy was I right. The thing that has stood out the most so far is James 1:19-20, specifically the command that I am to be "quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger." Heaven help me (quite literally!), I am none of those things! And it's the last one that really gets me.
I have known for some years now that I am a very angry person. It didn't come out until after college when years of pent up emotion came flying out of me, most of it in the form of anger and rage and some rather unholy and unladylike language. I was battling some clinical depression at the time and I remember my therapist remarking that I exhibited depression like a guy--meaning, instead of being super weepy and crying all the time like most women do when they are depressed, I just got mad as hell at everything, which is typically how men exhibit it. It is something that I hate about myself and which I am constantly begging God to take away or lessen. Ironically enough, it's usually the little things that get me irritated. Traffic and long lines and being put on hold; little inconveniences that make me the most unpleasant, rude, you-know-what-word-I'm-thinking type of woman. I hate it. And I can't seem to get on the front end of it. I wish I were the type of woman who, when she recognizes that she's getting all worked up over nothing, could let it go, or at least fake letting it go and being cheerful so as not to snap and be mean to the person on the other end of the phone/cash register/other car, etc. How do you stop anger and it's ugliness before it happens? I plow on through so quickly that I don't remember to stop and give control to the Holy Spirit like I should. Oh how I want to be that woman who lets the Spirit accomplish holiness in her!
I realized earlier this week when I was studying these verses on James and exploring the reasons for my own anger, that much of it seems to stem from my childhood and family of origin. I was raised in a family in which emotions were not always validated. I could be mad or upset, but only about things which everyone else was mad or upset about. I remember how much I hated it when my mom would tell me to "Calm down!"--oh, how those words could rile me up! Especially when no one else ever tried being calm when they were worked up about something. My own emotions weren't validated and given their own weight, especially my anger.
I think that had a lot to do with why the anger started coming out as soon as I was on my own; as if for years I had kept so many feelings repressed and they just erupted like a volcano, spewing their ugly ash over everyone close enough to feel it. Maybe that has something to do with why I get mad now and feel that I can't let it go; maybe in my mind I equate letting anger go with my anger not being validated or justified in some way. I don't know. It's something me and Jesus have to keep chipping away at I guess. Oh that I would no longer give in to the sin of ugliness that rears its ugly head each time anger swells up in me! May God grant me the grace to conquer the quickness of anger and what it brings out in me!