Yesterday I woke up angry, not really sure why and couldn’t honestly tell you one thing I was angry about, but it was in my heart and I wanted to be angry at someone. Jesus help me, and anyone else who struggles with this sin, to free themselves of anger, which stems from pride, which is all about self. Please help me die to self and release that anger, to be willing to give it to you, and to live my life with gentleness and respect, to all.
I spent much of the morning looking for a fight, I often do this when I am angry. Looking back on it now it seems silly, just don’t be angry anymore! But when in the moment, I find myself consumed by it and will often do my best to justify my hostility towards others, even going as far as to find some Biblical reference that will confirm my “right” to be angry. I decided that I had enough so I went to find a breakfast burrito, I love them! After all maybe I was just “hangry” and not really angry? First place I tried was closed, and the man who owns it had JUST told me last week he was open every day at 9am. Well at 9:30 on this day he was closed and a sign in the door showed the hours opening at 11am. That didn’t help with my frustration, but didn’t really add to my anger. I got in my car and drove to stop #2, also closed. The places in town that you can find a good (not fast food) breakfast burrito are dwindling. I did see a taco truck that looked like he was opening up for the day, so I drove back over to visit him and see if my wish for a breakfast burrito would be fulfilled. I met Rigo, the man who owns the truck, and he was so sweet. He said he had everything to make a breakfast burrito, but actually apologized for not having eggs. Here is a man who was not even looking to do business as he was just setting up for the day, yet he was apologizing to me for not being able to serve me. I replied to his kindness and asked if I brought him some eggs, would he be willing to make me one. “Of course I would!” he said with a brilliant smile. I don’t live far from the taco truck so I drove home and grabbed a half dozen eggs to bring back to feed my hunger…but that is when my true hunger was identified and was overwhelmed with the “meal” I desperately needed to consume. Here is where I may lose some of you, but I truly believe God spoke to me through my radio yesterday. I could not find anything good on the radio, at least nothing I wanted to waste my time listening to, so I decided to scan the channels for something new, or at least something different. As I pulled back up to Rigo’s taco truck I landed on a station with a pastor speaking so I decided to give it a listen, oddly enough I didn’t know this station existed before. Now here comes the best part, the pastor was speaking on temper, or more specifically anger. I sat in my car soaking it in for a minute or two before getting out and talking to Rigo about getting my “fix” for a breakfast burrito. He asked me what I wanted in it and I just said to him, “Rigo, you do what you do, I trust you!” I wanted to get back to the radio, I had even unrolled the window so I could continue to listen as I ordered. I sat in the passenger seat while Rigo was making his masterpiece (it was SO good by the way) and then I heard these words come from the pastor straight to my heart.
“No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness itself, does more to un- Christianise society than evil temper.” ~ Henry Drummond (From The Greatest Thing in the World, link to full PDF is at the end of this post).
That was very convicting for me to hear, especially considering I had no real reason to be angry but was looking for reasons to lash out in anger. It had me thinking for sure, how much damage has my temper done to others in their walk with Jesus? I am not naive enough to believe that I have not hurt someone enough with my temper, hurt someone enough to walk away from Jesus. You see the real danger in this is that when people see you following Jesus, but then also see you act out in anger, that damages the message of the Gospel in his/her eyes. The others things listed do as well, but when we are called to love even our enemies, and we lash out at someone, I agree that might be the biggest hangup some may have with Christians…with me!
The truly sad part about all of this is I let it happen today, and so soon after feeling loved enough by Jesus to allow me to hear (and read) this wonderful lesson on temper and anger. Only today I was having a good day, even a great day. I have tomorrow off, and I was getting a lot of things on my “to do” list crossed off, it felt refreshing. Then out of no where I feel the anger rise up, the temptation that was so strong only 24 hours earlier now snuck up on me without notice, and I let it take over. A simple question from a co-worker blew up into a tone of shame and judgement from me. I could see that I hurt the woman who asked me the question, and later on she would send me an email confirming this and also told me that she has always been afraid of me. THAT HURT! Hear I am trying to live my life based on love, and I have taken steps to make sure that happens at work. I have had the chance to speak to large groups and do my best to incorporate love into those messages. I do volunteer work and help others in our community, and when co-workers have asked me about it I simply reply the reason is love. But now those words are burning through my heart, they sting, she is afraid of me. How much damage have I done to her? Does she know I love Jesus, and if so she has to see me as a hypocrite! I let that pain sink in for a bit, but not long enough as I sent a quick reply and a pretty lame “apology” that was filled with defensive tones and pride. As I let the pain fester longer, I once again heard the loving voice of my Abba Father saying “Try again”. So this time I sent her a better apology, a sincere one, and I did my best to add value to her and explain what I did (including my first reply) was not who I am or who I was called to be. Sometimes hurt is a good thing, because the pain we feel is simply our pride being removed from our hearts. I can only hope and pray now that she will forgive me, and she can start to see me as someone who can offer her a love that is not of this world, and remove the barrier of fear she feels towards me. Satan is a sneaky little devil, he knew enough that I was struggling with anger, he knew that God had sent me that message about temper, and I saw the storm in my heart calm afterwards. So this time he came at me unannounced, by surprise, and he won the first battle, but I trust that God will win the war.