Friday, 26 March 2010
"Every emotion has some sort of survival value," said Dr. Simon, my abnormal psychology professor. In that lecture, he was referencing every human beings fundamental right to experience the spectrum of emotion. I am so blessed to have sat through a semester of Dr. Laurence Simon's teaching. In the world, we encounter people who will often manipulate us into believing that we are not entitled to our emotions. An example of this is when someone finishes describing their reaction to a situation, and the listener immediately follows with: "Well did you ever think about it this way?" Granted, sometimes people have to talk us off our psychotic edges and gives a reality check; but, in some instances, these listeners are just being manipulative. They invalidate other people's feelings and successfully convince people that what they feel is wrong.
One thing that my mother always taught me was: "Feelings are feelings. They're not right or wrong." I'm so glad that she instilled this in me while I was still so young. Most importantly, she simplified what some people try to complicate disproportionately. My mother was teaching me to always embrace the legitimacy of every emotion that I have. Of course, our feelings are never right or wrong. It's the actions that we choose to respond with that can send us down in flames. For me, anger has always been one of these emotions. Anger has expressed itself in many forms in my lifetime but at the end of the day, it's all anger. Jealousy, wrath, rage, passive-aggressiveness, are but a few of the forms that my anger has expressed itself. For me, my biggest downfall has been misplaced anger. God really spoke to my heart today when I read Colossians 3:8 that says: "But now yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language of of your mouth." After reading that, I now realize that God is no longer skimming the surface in my walk with Him. He is indeed calling me to go deeper.
I usually prayerfully mediate on the train or bus ride into work. As soon as I read this verse, my mind started swirling with every reason why I'm still angry. Some of the things that have left me angry are year old wounds that should be dead and buried. Yet, I still carry them around like they're a fresh bouquet of hell's roses. In my heart, lies legitimate anger but it's eating away at me. I think the main reason why I'm angry is because I haven't let go of a lot of my past. This isn't Bibical either. The Bible says: "Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past" (Isaiah 43:18). God doesn't keep us in our pasts, we do. And when we stay in our pasts, we stay in the same old emotions. The emotions that accompanied past events were legitimate back then, but they are not legitimate once the situation is over with. I will have to continually remind myself of this hourly, daily, monthly, and yearly. A second reason why I have so much pent up anger is that I feel as if I haven't been vindicated by God. I feel like people that hurt me, abused me, lied to me, or mistreated me were able to walk away from the situation blameless. Of course, this is a misconception. God keeps an eye on His young. Vengeance is His and I need to remind myself of that. I need to allow God to vindicate me.
Finally, I realized that anger is a superficially self-serving emotion. After awhile, holding on to anger is just selfish. Staying angry is a way that I've tricked myself into believing that my feelings are recognized and justified. As long as I'm angry, at least I'm recognizing and justifying my anger. Meanwhile, no one else around me is. They just think I'm ornery and unreasonable. God will work and I need to trust that He can break hearts of stone. He works on His own time and all things that need to be revealed will be at the appropriate time. The only cure for intense anger is compassion and forgiveness. I'm so taken with Buddhist philosophy because of their attention to compassion and forgiveness. If we have trouble forgiving and being merciful to others, it's because we do not forgive ourselves and we're not compassionate.
Needless to say, I got more than I bargained during this morning's prayer mediation time. If you have the same issue with anger, I would like to pray with you now.
"God, please accept all of the anger, wrath, and other emotions that feed off of these. God, remind us that vengeance is Yours. Let us know that You will have the last word and You will vindicate us. Let us be free today of all anger in our hearts that Your love may take over us forever in Jesus' name I pray, Amen."
Do you have a problem with misguided anger? How has prayer helped you to ease your anger problems?