Holding on to anger is
like drinking poison
and expecting the
other person to die.
Holding on to anger is
like holding hot coals you intend to throw at someone
but you're the one
who gets burned.
Anger is an acid that does
more harm to the vessel in which it is stored
than to anything on which
it is poured.
All of the above quotes, in a variety of similar iterations,
have variously been attributed to The Buddha, Mark Twain, Roman Stoic
philosopher Seneca, 12-Step programming, and any number of contemporary
authors. It is often difficult to pin down the actual origin of almost
epigrammatic expressions especially when widely quoted. Nonetheless, whoever
said them first, the consensus of the above is that anger is more
dangerous to oneself than to others. Anger that escalates to rage and/or combines
with desperation, however, can certainly be dangerous for everyone around.
But not all anger is bad or dangerous ~ it's quite
appropriate and justified, when it's directed at or a result of personal loss, instances of gross injustice, discrimination, economic hardship, and so on. It
is how we use our anger, how we respond that makes the
difference between poisoning ourselves and resolving an issue. Thoughtful
response rather than impulsive reaction? Some days are better than others. How
can I pull back when pushed over an edge? Counting to 10? Deep breathing?
much depends on when and how the anger surfaces and who is pushing my buttons and what else is
going on within me that may be completely unrelated. For one who is constantly
seething over things small and large, “itching for a fight” consciously or
otherwise, or keeping it all inside unexpressed with an all-gracious exterior, seeking outside help, pastoral
and/or professional is a useful step in self-care.
We all know that Jesus says
to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. If I’m spending much of my brief
life raging at others, even just inside, it says more about how I feel about me
than how I actually feel about her, him, and them.
There are days when I want You to be Your
Old Testament Self ~ smiting and plaguing, wrathful and condemning, thundering,
destructive, and vengeful, oh my! That gives me permission, sort of, to impose
the eye for eye/tooth for tooth thing as I plot my revenge against a perceived
enemy. But mostly, I want ~ and need ~ Your New Testament Self in the
form of Jesus who relieves my angst and anger and shows me a quieter yet
equally satisfying path. For today, I'll give up attempting
to bend my part of the world to my will by shouted recrimination or internal
rage. I'll take on seeking more positive outlets to
right injustice, overcome discrimination, promote understanding, or get involved with organizations that work to resolve large issues that affect us
all. I'll also work toward calming my inner upsets, examining the why and
how of what bothers me, and continuing my quest for the inner peace that will reflect outwardly. I'll pray for the guidance and blessing of the
Holy Spirit, the support and friendship of a loving community of faith, and the
collective wisdom and love of family and close friends. Oh, and I'll keep working
on what I'm thinking about those other drivers when I’m in the car.
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