Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How to Overcome Anger

So a friend and I were discussing the Anger chapter from The Man in the Mirror, when he said, "This guy identifies the problem, but he doesn't say how to solve it."

The problem is, well, you could have a short fuse (get angry too frequently) or hold a grudge, or whatever it is. The book also says that you can be a nice guy at work, but it's how you are at home, in the interior of your "castle", that says who you really are.

So how do you overcome anger? Here's what I said.

First, we have to understand we are talking about a BIG problem; it's not something like a hangnail we're talking about here. When you read a verse like "Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger," notice that it's a command. As one of our missionary friends says, "It's a command because it doesn't come naturally." It's also a command (rather than a suggestion) because it's hard.

Second, a lot of books and a lot of curricula and church programs and stuff seem to imply that the solutions to life's problems are based on getting skills. What a crock! The problem with anger isn't that you or I lack skills -- it's that we're selfish and impatient. What's the cure for that? It ain't skills.

Third, and this is a corollary really, I could give you some steps, but they wouldn't work. I made some up for him on the spot:
  1. Consider what Jesus Christ suffered unjustly at the hands of unrighteous sinners
  2. Compare your sufferings against his and notice that you deserve at least some of your suffering, whereas he deserved none of his. Also notice that your suffering is much less than his.
  3. Now be patient and altruistic
A fine set of steps, but they don't work.

OK, so here's something that really will work. But it is not easy, and it takes a really long time.
  1. I got this one from our pastor (maybe somewhere else too), but to become more patient, you have to practice. At the grocery store, bookstore, video rental place or whatever... pick the longest cash-register line. On the freeway, drive in the lane that looks slower. Let other people in when you're on surface streets.
  2. Pray, and get other people to pray for you Colossians 1.9-12, and this is probably a paraphrase, that God would fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may live a life worthy fo the Lord and please him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father....

    Read the Bible constantly -- that'll help make this happen

  3. Keep that up for 20-30 years.
  4. Repeat as needed
I probably missed something, but that should give some idea. It was easy to tell you about that -- a lot harder to actually do it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is the straightest shooting I've heard in a long time. Thanks for your post.
A mom of 4 and wife to a cop :|