Marsh Hudson-Knapp | Speaking of Religion: Are you angry, too?
I was talking with a friend, raging about a frustration I felt. She listened compassionately, and I felt a lot better and thanked her for her courage and care.
That got me thinking about anger. "Some people seem angry about a lot of things," I offered. "Actually there is a lot of anger flying around " I thought.
With those words a light turned on in my mind. Almost everyone I know is experiencing a LOT of anger, right? Anger about race, politics, ATVs, COVID. Can you and I work with anger before it devours us?
Can faith help us?
The Bible (in Ephesians 4:26 ) guides my efforts.
but do not sin.
Do not let the sun go down on your anger."
Could we work with our anger in a way that honors our faith or our best self and moves toward peace and justice to all?
Let's take a look at what the Apostle Paul is trying to tell us here. In my family we did not do anger. No one was allowed to even feel anger, no less express it. So the anger went undercover as sarcastic joking That's very confusing because the "joker" does not know he/she is angry. They may think they are just fooling around. And the victim of the sarcasm is confused too. Is this really a joke or is he-she angry with me?
Our other favored outlet was depression. If we did not find a way to bring our anger out and do something with it that anger turned back on ourselves. A cloud of sadness would take us down, Down, DOWN.
Be angry, the Bible urges us. We'll need to get awake about the anger within us so we can do that.
First step: Learn to notice when anger is stirring.
Here are my signs: I feel heat as my face flushes; my belly knots; my voice raises; I make a joke and someone feels hurt; I find I've become an expert about everything wrong about a person or group; some person or group becomes my scapegoat, a lightning rod for my anger. What are your warning signals of anger?
Don't Let the Sun Go Down
Second step: Don't carry your anger from one day into the next. That's good wisdom forgive everything you can by the end of each day. When we collect up anger over time it gradually fills our soul making us sick, miserable and mean. Have you experienced this? And sometimes our anger refuses to let go. So we have a third work to do.
Act without Sin
Third step: to act without sinning. To me, sin is not about breaking rules or laws. Sin is separating myself from God, from the Life Force. So bringing anger and God together in me is my work.
This entails exploring my anger and my story of the hurt or fear behind it. Then it's time to explore the other people's story: working to understand how they got to where they are; searching for ways to forgive, to learn. Next I need to speak up and act for justice while preparing for a learning conversation with others. All the time I'm trying to listen for the inner leading of the Spirit and obey.
Danger and Opportunity
Wake up with me! Anger is rising in us, and it wants to own us, our families, our towns, our world. I urge you, claim a faith discipline to work with anger instead of letting anger fill you and shoot out to wound others!
Marsh Hudson-Knapp is a member of Second Congregational Church and the Greater Bennington Interfaith Council
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.