Love your anger, don’t feed it
Loving your anger may sound weird, like you’re fanning a really bad—or even a dangerous—flame, but the love of your anger can be the most challenging words that can be a change agent not only for the Christian but also the world. Jesus calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, are our enemies, or hate us (Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:27). His words are not idle. They are action-filled.
If you’re like me, you’ve seen (and may have been involved in) uncontrolled anger. It is really ugly. Why, then, would you love anger? Shouldn’t it remain repressed or sequestered?
What we all need to remember (and police) is that no one should act on their anger in ways where people, animals and objects can be hurt or damaged. To act on your anger would be what I call feeding your anger.
Instead of feeding your anger, love it.
Let me explain what I mean. We’ve all had a significant squabble—or all out fight—with a loved one. Rather than look at the specifics of a single argument, look at the role of love. VERY generally speaking, you and your adversary in the moment disagreed with how (or how much), when, or maybe even where love should be expressed. Your idea of care was different enough from theirs to cause significant sparks that led to a heated argument. At the base of this spat, however, is what? That’s right. Love.
Anger informs us that something is being botched when it comes to love. The following is a very basic premise, but we need to understand before we go further that anger appears when love is challenged.
It is not wrong to be angry when love is challenged. Jesus would call this righteous anger, and when He snaps at merchants and money changers who turn the Temple into a market place (Matthew 21:12-13), the Son of God shows a little heat for the right reasons.
Some of us need to control anger far better than we are doing. And this goes for all of us, from the mild-mannered to the most hot-headed: rather than let anger flare, give it good, close attention by actually loving it.
Love your anger enough to hear what it is saying not in the roar of a moment but in the quiet. Is your anger inflating your self-importance, or is it keyed up because a single person or a whole people are hurting? Is so-and-so not giving you a good deal, or is injustice, racism, sexism, classism, terrorism, or just plain wrongfulness making your fists tight?
Yes, give your anger a safe space and a place to spout and grumble. After you do so, you can then treat your anger not as an enemy who reacts without thought, but as a messenger.
Since we can get so fired up over our enemies, and I don’t just mean the bully, petty thief, or road rage driver in the lane beside you, but to enemies on a much, much larger scale, let love be our answer. Let prayer be our answer. Let forgiveness be our answer.
MLK speaks to love when he says, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” C.S. Lewis speaks to prayer when he says, “Prayer doesn’t change God, prayer changes us.” And Jesus speaks to forgiveness when, on the cross, He says to His executioners, and, in turn to all sinners—past, present, and future—when He says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).”
Love your anger enough to let it teach you how to respond positively, not poisonously. Love your anger enough so that love not harm wins each day.
This blog first appeared in The Susquehanna Independent on February 20, 2019.