19You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. James 1:19-20
Are you struggling with anger these days? Does the littlest thing set you off so much that you start slamming doors, spewing a diatribe at the first person who inconveniences you, or swearing like a sailor at the guy that cut you off on 135?
It’s taken me so many years to realize that when I start doing such things, I’m actually angry about something I haven’t even begun to name. There is pain stuck deep within me that’s just too scary to confront. Because I haven’t uncovered the deepest pain, anger comes out in these nasty little soundbites. If I don’t get curious about them, then they become habit.
I believe that pain, often experienced in our youth, seeps out as anger later on in life. It is compounded all along our lives as we encounter each new painful situation that hits that hidden trigger. Anger becomes a pattern. We may numb it or take it out on others.
James writes good advice that is difficult to follow: be quick to listen—slow to speak, slow to make assumptions…slow to anger. Few are out there modeling this process for us.
This week, I invite you in your prayers to take time with God to let your feelings flow. Are you angry? Sad? Anxious? Fearful? Get curious and ask yourself why? What’s buried within you? Is this a burden that you might share with a trusted friend, family member or spiritual mentor?
I do believe that there is such a thing as righteous anger—anger that arises out of violence and injustices against human life and dignity, things that you have experienced and witnessed yourself.
Lean into prayer that is open to listening. Reach out for support when you feel at the end of your rope. Let yourself feel, and know you are created in the image of God. Together, may the Spirit guide us into the way of the Lord our God who “is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 103:8)