It was not my finest moment. I drove home from work that day in heaving sobs with my fingers gripped so tightly around the steering wheel that my knuckles turned white. Sure, I'd been harsh but he had just made me so angry.
My boisterous (and somewhat obnoxious) co-worker, whom I shared cubicle space with, had taken a conversation about politics too far-mocking Jesus and grossly misquoting Scripture in the process. When I took an opposing stance, he insinuated I was stupid. It was the bomb that lit the fuse that caused me to explode, and I unloaded on him that day. Few times in my life have I ever been so upset, so much so that the conversation left us both needing fresh air. Unfortunately he beat me to the patio so I was stuck at my desk trying to calm down.
The girl at the desk next to me came over to tell me I was right to say the things I did because she was thinking them, too. Great, I thought to myself, I put myself on the line and you silently applaud me. A lot of good that does. When my cubicle-mate returned to his desk he quickly slipped his headphones on and refused to even look at me for the rest of the day.
In the days and weeks that followed things were never the same between us. The air was icy; our relationship was strained. I hated work so much that I would cry before going into the office, but I needed the money so I was stuck. Everyday, as I sat at my desk (that was pressed up against the desk of a guy who had somehow become my enemy) I asked myself the same question over and over again: why had our conversation made me so mad?
My mind drifted back to a sermon I once heard on the topic of anger. The pastor said anger is a red flag signaling that we are feeling another emotion that we don't know how to deal with. "When you're angry," he said, "find a feeling."
In the case of my co-worker I felt threatened. He was raising a rally cry for a way of life I found unbiblical. He was standing for things that would infringe upon my freedoms. I felt as though if he won the argument and eventually, the political fight, his stance on issues might force me to change mine against my will.
Really, I was angry because I didn't trust God. I didn't trust God with the upcoming political election, I didn't trust God with my freedoms that could be infringed upon, and I really didn't trust God to protect me from people like my co-worker who I believed made decisions based upon instant gratification and not the biblical definition of right and wrong.
That was an eye-opening experience for me, though a painful one. Now, when I'm angry, I try to identify the emotion beneath the anger and deal with it before I explode. If there's any indication that I'm not trusting God, I confess it and look up verses that will help me in that area. And you know what? It works.
There is a great sense of freedom in being honest before the Lord with our emotions. Next time you find yourself getting angry, stop for a second and reevaluate your heart. What are you really feeling? What does that feeling tell you about your current relationship with God? Deal with the source of the problem and the anger will take care of itself.
As Christians we are to become more and more like God the longer we walk with Him. So how should we act? "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love" (Psalm 103:8).
Find a feeling. Be slow to anger. Trust God.
When Godly People Do Ungodly Things by Beth Moore
The Fruit of the Spirit Galatians 5:22-24
Shannon Primicerio likes country music, chai lattes and gift cards to almost any store. Check out Shannon's blog where she regularly writes about life, faith and the pursuit of the perfect hairstyle.
© 2011 by Shannon Primicerio. All rights reserved.