My Anger

And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
-Ephesians 4:26-7 (NLT)

A few weeks ago, I was on the way, with my family, to go to a performance of "A Christmas Carol".  I had never been to the theater we were driving to, and was taking directions from the GPS.  We got off the freeway, and I was disoriented about which lane to be in.

I was changing lanes and another man honked at me.  There were four lane choices, and I am not even certain I wanted to get in front of him; but just over, towards him, one or two lanes.

When he honked at me, I honked back.  He honked,  then I hooooooooooooonked.  You get the idea.  It was a, "how dare you honk at me, and now here is a taste of your own medicine", honk.  I think I also upset the panhandler, but he may have already been talking up a storm, before I hooooooonked.

We continued to follow the Magellan's directions, and it was funny, because the man that I had the honking thing with, was leading us the same way.  Yes, he was headed to the Christmas play too.  He just went into the adjacent parking lot, to the one I was looking for.

Later, when I crossed through that lot, looking for a coffee shop, I wondered if I would see that man.  In the theater, I wondered where that man was seated, with his family.  We were all there to watch the famous play about the  most famous Christmas grouch, who had his heart changed.

It took me a while, but I realized that even if someone is ungracious, in my eyes, and honks at me; perhaps they are doing it, because they really think I don't see them and want to prevent an accident, which is what horns are for after all.  I'm stating the obvious, because it is so easy to get caught up in a hysterical 'drama-fest'.  If I get honked at, I need to forbear and live out of the provision of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

So, a week past, and it happened again.  I made the mistake of going to the store, "to pick up a few things", in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.  The roads and the parking lots were as full and crowded as they get (accept for on Christmas eve.)  I was carefully exiting the parking lot onto the crowded street, making a difficult left turn.

And then the car in back of me honked.  I was tempted to make a scene by putting my car in park and setting the brake, then walking to their window, and asking them what their problem is.  In that moment, I let my spirit reach out to the Spirit of God and get the provision for the fruit of the Spirit I so much needed.

In the moment, I got it.  I chose not to sin in my anger.  The honk alarmed and annoyed me.  But then rather than escalating it, I reached out to God for the fruit of the Spirit, and God provided.  I made a choice, in the angry moment, to choose not to sin in my anger.

It felt different than the other way.  I felt peace.  There was a sting in the slight humiliation of the honk, but I learned again what it feels like to turn the other cheek.

And a few days later, last night in fact, after I had been reflecting on this, and began writing about it here; it happened again.  Someone honked at me, and I just chuckled and didn't feel anger at all.  All I wanted to do, is recognize them and their concern, and get out of their way.

I believe that The Fruit of The Spirit is there for every Christian, to resource us in every interpersonal situation challenge.  I am learning to live in that place.

I also believe that if we have deep pain, from childhood, that feeds our being touchy or angry adults, that we need to get in touch with it and release it, as Christians, through the cross of Christ.  Jesus helps us forgive.  He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases (Psalm 103:3).  Many people have suppressed anger.
The photo above is from Jamye Price, Forbearance.
Here are some books for further study:
The Angry Book, Theodore I. Rubin
Deep Wounds, Deep Healing; Charles Kraft
Boundaries, Henry Cloud & John Townsend
Questions & Answers on Anger, Cloud & Townsend
Anger and Assertiveness in Pastoral Care, David W. Augsburger.
The Three Battlegrounds, Francis Frangipane
Hate Work: Working Through The Pain and Pleasures of Hate, David W. Augsburger
(I have not read these two books by David, but he was a teacher of mine, and they look like very good resources.)