Your husband forgets an event you planned. Your coworker takes your lunch from the communal refrigerator. Your child deliberately tests your boundaries. You do something you know is stupid. The times we experience anger are too myriad to list, and the truth is, no one wants to feel angry. It uses up energy and keeps us from seeing others (or even ourselves) as children of God. But what can you do?
- Stop talking. When you’re angry with someone, it’s really easy to say hurtful things. Remember when you were a kid and pretended your mouth was zipped up? Try that now. Taking a moment or two will help you collect yourself and step back from the situation.
- Take the long view. Ask yourself, “Is this situation worth getting angry about?” Sometimes it is. Much of the time, it isn’t. There’s a distinction between righteous anger (the anger of the prophets, the anger of Jesus facing the moneylenders, the anger we feel when we do not see justice done) and personal anger (what we experience when we feel thwarted, insulted, etc.). Be clear about what you’re feeling.
- As soon as possible, reconcile. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us” is at the core of our beliefs as Christians; but it needs to be acted upon every day, every moment, in every situation.
Anger is a natural and normal feeling. It can spur us to constructive action, or destroy a relationship. Discerning which is the most likely outcome takes time, prayer, and recollection. But you can do it!