I have always been afraid of my anger.
Being cool, calm and collected has been lifted up to me as the best way to deal with emotions. The mantra that has often come out of my mouth is, “You are the one in charge of your emotions. Don’t let others push your buttons.” Another one that has been standard for me is, “You get farther with sugar than with vinegar.” There is truth in both of these statements, but always being calm and sweet can keep you from tapping into emotions that are culturally considered uncomfortable; and this blog is all about being uncomfortable.
I’m pretty sure I went almost a decade without getting really angry. At least I don’t remember getting angry very often – until I had a toddler. Oh my goodness… it was awful to feel so angry at a small child and, honestly, it was also scary for me. I didn’t know I could get that mad.
For those of you who are into understanding yourself better through the enneagram, it was truly eye opening to learn I am a Nine. Turns out anger is the emotion that “Nines” bury and avoid. I had become a pro at avoiding anger, and not just in my personal life, but at work, too.
Anger is often seen as negative in the realm of the church. Turn to Galatians 5 and read verses 16-26. Anger is not listed in the fruits of the spirit, but in the works of the flesh. “Good Christians” don’t get angry (or have doubt – but that is a topic for a different post). Good Christians grow fruit that is calm and sweet. I’m going to call bullshit on that way of thinking.
Christians, really all humans, need to be in touch with all of their emotions so that we can harness the energy that comes from every emotion for the good of ourselves and others.
Let’s remember, God can handle our anger and our tough questions. Just read through the Psalms and notice all the frustrations that are hurled God’s way. God can take it. Jesus got mad, too. He got snippy with his mother at the wedding at Cana. He flipped tables in the temples. He yelled at the disciples for falling asleep in the garden. Jesus called Peter Satan. You know Jesus had to be angry to pull out the Satan insult. So, can we finally let go of the idea that you can’t be both angry and Christian?
I started this blog because I was mad about what is going on in the world and how it has impacted my life. I’m still mad. The safe bubble I thought was surrounding me was popped. The ugly truth about racism could no longer be ignored. It needed to be confronted with as much honesty and transparency as possible.
This time, anger didn’t scare me. It empowered me to use my voice.
This time, anger didn’t hold me back. It pushed me out into the world to be a source of healing in the community where I live.
This time, anger is not a work of the flesh, but feels like a fruit of the spirit.
This anger, this righteous anger, has reawakened my passion for justice.
This anger, this elegant anger, is empowering me to claim the space in the world that is rightfully mine.
I encourage you to reflect on your own relationship with anger. How can you turn it from a work of the flesh, that eats at your soul, to a fruit of the spirit, that ultimately is about love, joy and peace?
We need to stay angry. We need to stay pissed to take on the work of ending racism in our world. This work will not be over in weeks or months. We are working to undo centuries of systemic oppression and it could take centuries to untangled it all. It is time to get comfortable with the uncomfortable emotion of anger so we can reform this world for the generations to come.
I’m angry, and righteously so. God can handle it. Can you?
I have learned to use my anger for good . . . Without it, we would not be motivated to rise to a challenge. It is an energy that compels us to define what is just and unjust.Gandhi