Righteous anger—is there such a thing? I find myself angry at many things in life—bad drivers, bad sushi, and bad Catholics—to name only a few. It’s easy to defend and rationalize the actions that follow the feeling but you can never justify sin when you act in anger (Ephesians 4:26). As ever-growing Christians, controlled anger is something you can embrace and use as pruning shears to strengthen your faith. I think anger often gets misrepresented. Since it’s a negative feeling, it’s easy to only associate it with negative acts and outcomes. However, I have found that anger has many unexpected positive consequences.
When I get annoyed/frustrated/angry with a situation, or more likely, how someone is acting in that situation, it gives me a chance to reflect on my current situation and choices to see how I’m really feeling. Usually, I actually am overwhelmed, stressed or nervous about something in my life or perhaps I’m just plain exhausted because, two under two is not for the faint of heart! Therefore, my anger toward another person or situation is usually not justified. Even if that jerk cut you off or they forgot the avocado in your salmon roll. Life is too short to get your blood boiling over things that will pass so quickly. It then gives me a moment to think about how to fix the true reason behind my anger—tiredness, lack of prayer, or anxiety over a situation. To combat that last one, boundaries are your best freaking friend. Don’t wait until you’re married, or have a child to set them—it will save you lots of time worrying over something that can usually be easily and kindly resolved.
There are other times where your anger is very much justified. You see our culture of death—people disrespecting the dignity of human life on almost every political docket—abortion, capital punishment, immigration, euthanasia—to name only a few. It’s easy to get really riled over whether or not something is Republican or Democratic—but do these agendas respect life is the question you should really be asking. If you are still stewing over injustice, do something!
Another time anger is rightly justified is when you observe people disrespecting our faith. Now, most of these people can probably plead ignorance; however, there are a great many that just don’t care. I can feel my blood boiling a little already… While visiting my parents, going to Mass was disastrous. Most people showed no respect to the Eucharist and a few non-Catholics went up and received*. A Deacon there is also pushing the LBGT agenda and….I digress. Then there are the fake Catholics. There, I said it. These are the people who are raised Catholic, choose to walk away from the Church, mock the Church, and still proudly profess they are Catholic. This is why other Christians laugh in the face of Catholics calling themselves Christians. This is why I have begged those who don’t believe what the Church teaches to dig deeper, or walk away.
In the face of this anger, I have begun to ask myself—where can I find joy? Sometimes there is no joy in staying silent in an issue that needs to be addressed – yet— where is prudence? Is it wise to address the person in love or more prudent to bite your tongue, knowing that grace is being poured on you? Can you talk with someone without displaying judgement? And are you guilty of the same sin? There are times when you address truth with someone in kindness and you are met with defensiveness in anger. It is then I am most faced with my own mortality and realization that I cannot right the wrong and still be kind. Then I must make a choice— choose faith or choose pride. I certainly do not always choose correctly!
My mom has asked if I am ever going to change the name of my blog. I assume she means if I will choose a name that’s more warm and fuzzy. The answer is no—because in anger I have found what I am most willing to advocate for and try to do so in kindness. Anger has brought me to the confessional many times, and each time I am grateful for a clean slate to try again. Second, if my writing does not bring you warm and fuzzies because I address convicting topics… that, my friend, is solely on you.
A wise friend once said, “sometimes you just gotta channel your inner rage-y Jesus at the temple”. Amen to that.
*only Catholics in a state of grace and in observance of Canon Law may receive Holy Communion