Sunday, June 14, 2009

Abi and Anger....

Anger continues to be something that I find is not well processed -- in the world, generally, and by Christ-followers, specifically. I struggle with it because I grew up believing that I was not allowed to be angry about things that I could not control.

I have come to understand, over the past 25 years, that anger is an emotion. And, as an emotion, it is morally neutral. We are angry because we are having an emotional response to something we have experienced. This is just the way we have been wired. It provides us with the opportunity to act out cHesed by responding in such a way as for the best interest of "the other" to be served.

Exactly who do I mean by "the other"?

Well, sometimes, the other is God. But more often than not, the other is my neighbor -- whether that be a brother or sister in Christ or any human in close proximity to me. Someone whom I intersect with in an experience that was not just, not loving or kind, not humble -- pretty much the opposite of Micah 6:8!

But just like all the other emotions, we are called to be restrained in our response -- lest our reaction cause us to sin -- to break covenant -- against God or Others.

I was smacked pretty hard with the whole restraint thing lately. I talk a good story about restraint being a foundational aspect of God's character. I'm just so very thankful that They are so much better at doing it than I am!

So far to go on this path....

I have, however, begun the journey from the dark side of love back to the light. How does the saying go? The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step?

One of the challenges of living the Purple Martyrdom is the ever-tempting thought that suffering or pain or sickness or frustration or exhaustion can ever excuse a response to anger that breaks covenant. It can help to explain it ... but not excuse. Sorry.

Anger that leads to sin can only be confessed, repented of, asked forgiveness for, reconciled and restored ... and that is a relational challenge that too often eludes many of us ... or, at least, this wee purple abbess.

So, I've been reading a book that is challenging me to rethink my situation. Or, rather, really think it through. For those of you who have been with me for a while, you will know how important the books on the Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman have been. Well this book on anger is one he has written to answer the many questions he's received over the years about how to handle it in a healthy way. (It is basically an updated version of the previous book.)

As with all issues of thinking clearly, this book requires that we take a look at the terms and the assumptions and ponder the difference between good and bad anger before we even get down to how to manage a proper response. Indeed, I really like this definition on page 23:

God's purpose in human anger ... is ... to motivate us to take positive action when we encounter injustice.

Abi will, consequently, be processing here what she is, er, processing about anger as she reads this book and allows the Holy Spirit to transform her broken, purple, angry heart into one that keeps -- rather than breaks -- covenant.

...and purple glasses will be required for reading, of course!



Brad said...

It occurs to me that maybe paradoxical "purple anger" is the real deal, and keeps things in an appropriate dynamic tension between a righteous response to an unjust act. Otherwise, anger gets split and ends up the red-hot response that ultimately makes us blue.

AbiSomeone said...

Indeed, Brad ... purple anger cools the red-hot emotions ... and everything needs "appropriate dynamic tension", eh?

Praying for you, brother AbbE!