All my life I’ve hated feeling … anything. I really dislike feeling negative emotions, even though I’m much more comfortable with them than positive emotions. I understand God made us in His image — He has emotions and therefore we do as well. Remind me to thank Him for that!
Women seem to deal with their emotions very differently than men. I don’t fully understand women, but from my observations, being married for 20 years, they feel, then react emotionally and they’re done. Men are not so simple. We deny feelings then try not to react, but if we do react then we generally think about what the proper reaction should be according to the situation. Once we do react though, it’s not over. Depending upon the situation, we can keep that emotional event hidden in our heart for decades without ever letting anyone know it’s still there. I’m speaking from my own experience, of course, but I’ve learned that I’m not unique in this way.
Truthfully, I’m much more comfortable with anger or rage than almost any other emotion. It’s because I’ve lived in that state for most of my life. When it comes upon me, I feel like a long lost friend is back for a visit. Sometimes I welcome him and bask in the sense of power and fury he lends me. Then I remember that he is a traitor and will always turn on me in the end.
I think this is why Bruce Banner’s line in The Avengers hit me right between the eyes. When Bruce comes back onto the scene and needs to prepare for battle, someone says to him that he needs to get angry now. He answered, “That’s my secret, I’m always angry.” I greatly identify with this statement. That’s me!
I think many men, especially Christian men, are secretly angry. I believe we’re angry at everything, including our wives, our children, our life circumstances and even God Himself. We’re angry at a world that forces us to walk a line that we’d rather not walk. We’re angry that Satan still exits. But we need to be good Christian boys and behave… After all, how would it look if we displayed our anger? Our mantras are: Don’t rock the boat, go along to get along, be faithful by grinning and bearing it. These soul stealing platitudes are not worth our breath but yet many of us live by them.
Too often in the past I’ve lived my life consumed by anger. Now here is the part where I’m supposed to repeat the line from the film Unforgiven, where William Munny constantly repeats the refrain: “I ain’t like that anymore.” But like him, I can still get back there in a split second. So I can try to deny that anger is my default setting, or try to change it.
So what do I switch it to? There is only one other emotion and state of being I’m more comfortable with than anger: peace. It’s the polar opposite of anger, and what I like most about it is, regardless of the situation, it stays constant — something it has in common with anger. But it never betrays me by asking me to switch sides momentarily and work for our enemy, Satan. Anger constantly does this and has gotten me in serious trouble in the past. This is a big reason why the Prince of Peace gifted us with this emotion so that we’re always able to determine true North in any situation.
Remember the money changers? Jesus walked through the temple the day before and saw the same scene as He did when He chased the money changers out. He didn’t react the first time because He wasn’t instructed to by the Father. There is a time and place for righteous anger, but until then we should remain at peace just as He did.
I’m not condoning anger, but I’m also not condemning it either. For me, anger is the trickiest of emotions. Used to carry out God’s will it’s positive and totally acceptable. It’s when it carries out my will that there’s a problem. Like Bruce Banner, my monster comes out and it’s never as controlled as I envision it. So today I choose peace and pray that, when the monster is knocking on the door, peace answers and keeps him contained.
Photo credit: greghornjudge.com