on anger

I have had quite a journey this Fall.  I still feel like it’s only a beginning.

I know many of you have noticed my “angry tweets.”  Some of you have enjoyed them, some have not.  I wonder why that is?  A simple answer comes to mind: We are not comfortable with anger in America or in Christian America.  Anger has been quarantined with other “negative” emotions.  It’s not doing our culture any good. It’s not going the church any good either.  This seems like it could be a thesis to a paper, perhaps it will be some day.

In case you can’t recall here’s a recap of my tweets: “I’m an angry man, I’m angry, I’m not angry, I’m a man that gets angry.”   You have all been part of a theraputic process for me.  I’ve discovered even saying the word angry out loud helps. Most of the time just saying and noticing is enough. So by broadcasting it in moments when I was angry or not helped me through this process. I’m learning that I don’t even have the vocabulary for anger.  I’ve discovered this fall that anger can help me find my voice.  Anger is my friend.  Anger is our friend.

I’ve hid my anger well.  Judging by some of the interactions on social media many of you were shocked.  I assume shock came first by an expression of anger by broadcast, but also from me at all.  Most of you probably think of me as a gentle soul. But I’m a whole person, with broad reactions to life. I do get angry, but most of the time I’ve stuffed it deep down somewhere. It would smolder like a smoke house.  I would cover up my anger, not giving it air.  It would sit under the surface for quite some time. Eventually, sometimes hours later I would notice that anger’s energy was gone.

This isn’t a depressing or scary story people. If you’re feeling that way as you read, I want you to ask yourself why?

As I hope you can see from my tweets I’ve made some good movement this Fall. I’ll share a time that I was able to express my anger and move on.  It was a Sunday morning. We were trying to get out the door.  It was a morning after a sleepover.  The 3 other kids that were with us were ready with all their gear and our boys were dawdling. Of course, right?  Jen and I growled at each other in the kitchen while grabbing drinks for the cadre.  We openly expressed our anger with each other and with the kids. Five minutes later I’m putting the key in the ignition and realize that I’m not angry.  Most Sundays leaving for church is a infuriating process. I usually I realize I’m not angry 20 minutes down the road.  That day I let anger out.  It didn’t hurt anyone.  I’ve realized that most of the time anger has been harmful to me.  Not wanting to harm others I’ve harmed myself.

Can anger harm? Absolutely!  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes it helps you find your voice.  Sometimes its a good thing.  Just like eating isn’t always debauchery.  Anger doesn’t always harm and destroy.

The church needs some angry prophets. Sadly, I’d rather not be either.  When I think of being a prophet I think of being an outcast.  I think of running for your life.  I think televangelist when I hear the word prophet.  But I think I may be called to be both: angry and a prophet.  What?  That doesn’t sound at all like something I want.  Not at all like something the church remotely wants!  Here we are Needs vs Wants.  The belly of a whale sounds nice and cozy about now.  Nauseating, but cozy.

In class Dan Allender expanded on some therapeutic roles we see in scripture: Prophet, Preist, and King.  When you read “therapeutic” don’t just read “therapist.”  If you’re a pastor or follower of Jesus there should be a therapeutic quality to your interactions.  If there isn’t that quality, something is amiss.  Prophets invite people into the story.  This is a disruptive task.  A prophet points out the present state of the community.  This usually is when the community has headed off into dangerous direction.  We see this a lot in in the people of Israel and the interaction with their prophets.  The Church needs to be called out on where they’ve drifted.  God wants me to help in that disruptive work.  (Please refer back to my belly of a whale comment.)

I thought I was an angry man. Perhaps I am, but not every day.  I felt so angry this Fall.  I thought since I acknowledged that part of myself rage would somehow always be active.  I realize that I’ve stuffed my anger so deep that I’m an angry man.  As I begin to cope I’m becoming a man that gets angry.  I’m not sure if that all semantics or my experience.  Either way I’m becoming more of who God and I imagine me to be.

Thanks for coming along with me.  There’s more to come I’m sure.

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2 thoughts on “on anger

  1. Dead on about the church. Being angry is just not accepted and let’s recount the cost–shall we? A fetus is not a real life until 22 weeks gestation, we can’t pray or talk about God openly in school or government, some churches for that matter because–heaven forbid we offend a Muslim or homosexual. We can go on and on with the reprocussions of holding back anger. But the effects pierce every part of our being, even our health. I believe anger to be the main contributor of the two primary diseases we see in the U.S.–cancer and depression. The latter accounts for the many addictions of society. Why? We are allowing anger to eat us up from the inside out. Is this a Christ-like attribute? Absolutely not! Much scripture speak of God’s great anger and wrath towards us and Psalms 4:4 doesn’t say not to get angry. What it does say is when you do get angry, be careful not to sin.

    So Randy–kudos! Get angry, it’s a great motivator for change.

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