The cast may slow him down a bit until he is healed, but it is an amazing protector. I don’t have to worry about accidentally kicking him in the night – and it would be an accident. I don’t have to be on guard against jostling, or bumping him during the day; he is safe from my clumsiness.
The cast will also protect him from his own carelessness; it holds his leg secure so that he can’t move his foot in the wrong direction even if he tried. There is no getting around it: a cast is a great invention to keep his foot safe and sound until his incision is healed and the tendon is strong again.
And, that’s exactly how some of us use anger. It is a wonderful tool to keep our opinions sound, because no one can get close enough to jostle them, and we can’t move them. No challenging ideas can penetrate deep enough to touch our vulnerabilities.
Anger seems to be one of the primary means these days of fortifying one’s self against opposing opinions, and often even, facts. It’s really sad that so many conversations degenerate into name-calling, and faith-challenging arguments where friends and/or family feel the need to walk away, unfollow, or block one another.
The main difference between anger and a physical cast, is that anger is harder to remove. Also, anger serves no good purpose. It does not protect anything good, it does not promote healing, and we fool ourselves if we think it keeps us from harm.
Do you use anger as a cast around your mind? How would you know? Perhaps a good marker is how quickly you respond with anger to differences of opinion. Do you feel like you need to lash out when your opinion/perspective differs from someone else’s?
Do you feel challenged to prove you are right the moment you read, or hear, an opinion that differs from yours? Do you feel validated by someone else’s anger when their opinion agrees with yours? Do you find that you are angry more often than you are not? Is anger your first emotional response?
Like a cast protects a weak spot, anger protects an opinion that has little strength. That’s what anger is – a hard shield of protection. How horrible would it be if some thought, fact, or opinion should penetrate the armor of anger and actually make its way into the mind? Oh my! Our thoughts could change! And that would never be a good thing. Would it?
If our thoughts changed, we might understand the perspective of the people toward whom we’ve directed our anger, and then we’d have to either admit we might have been a tiny bit wrong, or – heaven forbid – entirely wrong. Or, and this might even be worse – we might find room for compromise.
No! Never! Anger is so much more comfortable than compromise. Anger keeps us from bending and possibly hurting our pride. It stabilizes our opinions. It keeps facts from jostling our convictions. Anger is the guardian that keeps anything that might contradict our firmly held persuasions far away from our vulnerable insecurities so that we don’t have to consider for a moment that there could be a potentially valid point of view that is different than our own. Anger protects us from the accidental kick of rational thought.
Why would we want our opinions, or convictions, to change? Well, we wouldn’t if we knew they were based on, and aligned with, the Words of God – the truth of the Gospel – but if we base our ideas on anything else (public opinion, political affiliation, whatever the media tells us we must believe), then don’t we owe it to ourselves to pull back and ask ourselves why are we so angry?
What does God say about anger…
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24)
An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins. (Proverbs 29:22)
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20
Actually, this sounds a lot like our newsfeeds – we are so quick to respond with anger that we commit many sins including the slander of innocent people. We challenge the faith of Christian brothers and sisters rather than show love. We’ve lost the ideal of spiritual unity and exchanged it for the ideal of being right.
If we want to overcome anger, we must consciously choose to slow down our response time. We must recognize that we might not always be right, examine the beliefs we hold dear, factually validate the certainty of our rightness with research, honestly consider differing perspectives, and then actually weigh facts against opinions. That takes time, and if that sounds off-putting, then perhaps your cast of anger is thicker than you thought.
However, the Word of God is tremendously penetrating and sharp, and it can cut through the thickest cast of anger. What we must ask ourselves is: does God’s word penetrate my own heart as much as I want it to penetrate others? Are my convictions based on a one-ness with Jesus, or on a one-ness with my social/political affiliation? Do I want peace, or do I want to be right? Has anyone ever changed your mind with anger? What do you expect your anger to accomplish?
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