I laughed. It's true. One of the the lines from the film that made me laugh out loud, "That's my secret, I'm always angry." It resonated with me, a lot.
Anger isn't far beneath the surface for me, for all sorts of reasons.
I get angry at injustices - small and big, raging full on anger. The news of the weekend - another massacre in Syria, another aquittal for a rich man in the face of huge evidence against him, another politician misusing power, another unveiling of child porn... It is enough to drive me into raging despair. Anger like this is good because it motivates me to be clear sighted and clear headed: demands that I do not accept the unacceptable.
I get angry at foolishness - poor decisions that impact lots of people, thoughtless action that leaves others disenfranchised and marginalised, selfishness that leaves others on the edge of relationships stunned and hurt, the waste of money and resources that disregards the lack of resources of others. Anger like this leaves me vulnerable to judgementalism and self-righteousness.
I get angry when I'm challenged - both just and unjust challenges provoke me and leave me with a choice. How must I respond?
I get angry when tired, pushed too hard, inconvenienced and overlooked.
The New Testament is clear - anger is no virtue and is dangerous ground on which to make decisions, base relationships and live life. There is room made for it but not much:
"Be angry but do not sin" Eph 4:26So how do I 'deal' with my anger:
1. Vent not, want not. Venting anger doesn't often help - it feeds the flames rage with fresh oxygen and intensifies the feelings. I look to express rather than to vent: examining and exploring what has got me angry.
2. Wait and ponder. In not venting, neither do I stew - but I do give time to think and reflect on why I'm angry: is it good, bad or ugly (or most often - just complex). Why am I angry? Is a great question to ask myself and I try not to let it begin with 'because they...' but with 'because I...'
3. Repent in haste, respond at leisure. I have to be quick to apologise - not at a surface level (a 'sorry' that is not sorrowful is worse than the initial injury) - if I've spoken out of turn, I try not to justify it but to acknowledge it, see the injury and learn from the moment. Sin is part of the pattern of the human heart that the grace of God is working on in me: I learn much about the greatness of my saviour in the confronting of my sin.
4. Look back in humour - again, not to belittle the moment, but if I were to hold on to sorrow for every time I stepped out of line in this area: let's just say a lifetime would not be long enough to dig me out of that particular hole. I need to learn to laugh at the ridiculousness of my own studpidity and sin - that way, I'll probably learn to see the lighter side of other's darkness too.
5. Pursue honesty in friendship - confronting other people well is an investment into better relationships. Not the faux honesty of 'assertiveness training' which is all about getting what our selfish hearts want but being honest in ways that invite people into deeper friendship - being honest about being angry can open doors into vulnerability in me as well as others. It's a little bit like learning to swim at the deep end of the swimming pool - it might not be ideal, but it is pretty effective.
What are the big issues for you? How do you deal with them?