Carden Meditations: #9 of 14
The previous 8 meditations have all been affirmations of our individual worth and relationship to God and others.
In 5 of the next 6, Miss Carden identifies negative traits common to all of us. And I love her for it. Each deserves careful reflection of how we harbor it in ourselves, not to identify it in family members, neighbors, strangers or even politicians.
Anger bruises my soul.
Anger destroys my inner peace.
Anger wastes my energy.
Anger masters me.
Oh God, take away my anger.
Stephen Covey taught: “Most anger is guilt overflowing” I can see that. I’m never quicker to lose patience with, or faster to want to control others, than when I’m neglecting control over myself. Parenting little children quickly brings that to the surface. Jordan B Peterson (12 Rules For Life) devoted an entire chapter to it under Rule #6: “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world”.
Another said: “Anger is an indication of underlying hurt” That’s true, too. Typically a cornered hurt animal lashes out at those trying to help. And help, like setting a bone or cleaning an open wound, initially intensifies the pain – but ultimately provides the cure.
Lesson: don’t be angry with those who desperately want to help you, even if you don’t like the medicine.
Another cause of anger is frustration, which labeled correctly, is an unmet expectation. Coping with frustration rather than letting it spill over into anger plays back to Covey’s take, Peterson’s, and Miss Carden’s.
What about ‘righteous anger’? Is anger ever justified? I value this from Richard Eyre in (What Manner of Man):
“Was the Savior ever angry? Yes and no. No, he did not lose control, did not let passion or emotion rule, did not retaliate against those who abused him. But yes, he got angry in the sense of righteous indignation, [a] kind of controlled but powerful anger and action.” Eyre adds: “Destructive anger is anger that is connected to hate. Christ’s anger was inseparably connected to perfect love. He simply loved people too much not to feel indignation toward the things that would destroy them. Indeed, the Lord, being perfect could not have avoided this sort of anger, for it is wrong to be complacent in the presence of wrong, and he was bound sometimes to express himself forcefully. The Master turned his other cheek to those who persecuted and reviled him, but he turned the full force of his indignation upon the evils that could hurt and destroy those he came to save.”
That’s love, not anger. And if we’re honest, rarely is our anger Christlike righteous indignation. More often anger masters us, and consequently that makes us less, not more like the Master.