I hadn’t planned on writing this post anytime soon, but yesterday’s post left me feeling like I couldn’t leave the subject hanging.
This is what I’ve gleaned from my own reading of the Bible. I discovered that Bible study isn’t only important as God’s word, but it helps me discern when others are manipulating me by using the Bible. Yes, that’s an important one for me. I was guilted in to believing I would be punished for my disobedience, that my problems were due to me not being faithful enough, and I was wicked for wanting to avoid my parents being angry with the way they treated me. Learning the Bible for myself, I’m now able to say, “They were wrong.” God doesn’t punish. Natural consequences are not punishment. We punish ourselves by turning our back on God and distancing ourselves from His loving guidance and presence. He did not push us away… I was taught God would abandon me if I sinned, which is all backward; I abandon God when I sin. Problems do not happen because of a lack of faith. Problems happen because Life happens. Life is all about growing, from the moment we are conceived. We have a little control over some of the problems, like I don’t worry about speeding tickets because I don’t speed. I have control over that problem. Other problems happen because of what someone else does, and I’m collateral damage, so to speak, like coming in contact with an abuser. God doesn’t condone it or want it to happen. He will take the evil that happens and open the way to a blessing, like I’m more compassionate and more aware of others around me. I am not wicked for wanting to avoid my abusers. As pointed out yesterday, Jesus first line of defense is to walk away. I was doing it right the first time.
Onto the subject of what Jesus teaches about anger. Yes, there are all kinds of scriptures that are anger specific. I’m looking at what He did.
To my way of thinking, Jesus expressed two very different kinds of anger.
*The first anger He expressed was in regards to how children are treated. It wasn’t the kind of anger most of us would recognize, but I recognize it on a gut level. He doesn’t blow up. However, the words He speaks aren’t simply harsh but brutal.
He didn’t rant, rave, scream, rage, lash out. He spoke the simple truth.
“…whoso ever shall offend one of these little ones, it would be better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
That is brutal.
He goes on to preach against the offenses of the world and that it would be better to cut of hands and feet and cast them from you than to allow them to lead you into hellfire.
Yeah, I’m amused when people say that Jesus was all about love and peace. No, that was an important facet but hardly all of Him. Offending God wasn’t acceptable. I was dismayed to realize how often I chose to appease people over pleasing God. The natural consequences followed. I was hurt and unhappy. This is what I’ve spent my life doing, attempting to please my parents, putting them before God. It’s really a struggle to unlearn that one and put God first.
The second anger He expressed was shouting and turning things over, but it was extremely controlled. It was planned. He sees the way the Temple, the Lord’s House, is being defiled. Instead of a place of worship, moneychangers are selling animals for sacrifice. Imagine walking into a church and finding hymn books, Bibles, and whatnot being hocked like souvenirs at a baseball game. The whole purpose of the Temple was to reflect and worship, and the atmosphere was completely shattered by people only interested in making money.
However, consider His response. Jesus didn’t blow up on the spot. He waited. He braided a whip. I’ve done enough research to know this is a labor intensive task. He returns to the Temple, with the whip, and tells them what they’re doing wrong and commands them to depart. They don’t. He cracks the whip, an attention getter if ever there was one, turns over tables, and releases the animal sacrifices.
Just realized something: He knows He is slated to be the last blood sacrifice. In a remarkably subtle way, He’s telling them who He is.
He didn’t steamroll in, out of control. His anger did not have control of Him in any way. He had total and complete control of His temper.
It wasn’t the ice cold control of some abusers or the out of control explosion. He channeled his temper through His sorrow at the lack of respect and honor that should have been present.
Unrecognizable from the anger I grew up experiencing.
It is an anger I’ve experienced, on a very limited basis.
Healthy anger is a normal reaction to healthy boundaries being violated. It’s a warning. Warning are supposed to be short alerts, not lived in.
Anger is also a healthy response to evil. Human trafficking elicits anger, as it should. Staying in the anger isn’t healthy. From Jesus example, anger should be banked in order for clear thought to occur. A decision should be made, and action carried out.
I think anger is too often a reflection of feeling stuck. It feels powerless. Depression is repressed anger. A good choice in the short term but not healthy long term. Growing up in the insanity I did, I’ve spent my life in depression. Learning to change that response is so hard; it feels impossible. In my head, I know change is possible, but it requires a lot of work, a lot of changing my thinking. It helps to have a clearer understanding of what I think healthy looks like: Allowing myself to feel anger when healthy boundaries are violated, not becoming stuck there, not allowing myself to sink into depression, creating a plan of action, and carrying it out. Wow… that’s a lot of work. I think healthy children in healthy families learn this and do it without thinking. This is one of those things that falls under the needing to do it 3,000-7,000x a day. I’m not simply learning something new, I’m having to unlearn bad habits.
First step is awareness.