A brief message on anger and pushing buttons…

19 [a]So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20

Generally I am a peaceful person. I am normally not quick to anger, which is a drastic difference compared to the person I was before I was saved by Christ. I’m not immune to it as I discovered yesterday. To be blunt, a person set me off rapidly and it took far too much human effort to overcome it and keep myself from literally exploding in anger.

This carried through the day. I’ve got triggers, we all do. I might bury them deep and struggle to be slow to anger at times, but while God will not hit those triggers, once I let the enemy get his hooks in I allowed it to pretty much ruin my day. HALT was in full effect. We are more likely to sin when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

I was definitely hungry, but even after lunch – no chance of avoiding it as I was already angry. Lonely? Yup. Been lonely for a decade. Tired? Yup. I’m doing a ton of planning, packing, purging, moving, etc… as I prepare to move in to my new home. It was the perfect emotional and spiritual cocktail to push me to the edge of losing myself in anger.

What did it? What was the trigger? Someone kept talking over me. All day. I’d be in the middle of speaking, and they would immediately start talking. Not only would they start talking, they would keep talking, faster and louder than I was. This went on for nearly the entire day until I finally packed up my things and left the office for the day to cool down.

It’s the second time this year I actually got pissed off. Last time it was due to an overzealous parking attendant/security guard at my office. That’s how frequently I get legitimately angry. I’d rather it was never, but I’d say twice a year compared to my previous life (before Christ) where the tiniest things would set me off and I would stew for days.

Now in the middle of this I struggled to be slow to speak. The few times I raised my voice louder than my normal cadence I managed to get to complete a sentence, but more often than not when our voices overlapped, I’d get loud, then I’d shut up, turn away, and stew… usually mumbling expletives to myself as I simmered.

Early on, I should have turned to scripture, I should have turned to prayer. I failed spectacularly at that as the enemy got his hooks in and no matter how many times I silenced myself, or went for a walk, it wasn’t leaving any time soon. On the way home after the cortisol levels returned to normal, I had time to find clarity and re-center myself on Christ.

I prayed for forgiveness from God for losing my temper (albeit I managed to keep a rattling lid on it the best I could, I strongly DISLIKE that feeling). I forgave the person who set me off, and then I let go of it. We’ve all got triggers, we all get angry, we all sin – but the advantage we have as believers are that in those heated moments Christ is right there with us ready for us to allow Him to restore our peace.

We just need to remember to look to Him in those moments. Yesterday, I failed at that, but just like the prodigal son when I turned away from my anger and what was pushing me down – there He was, ready to free me from my own self-inflected anger. The person who set me off wasn’t the cause of my anger, I was. I could have turned from it, but I didn’t.

Lesson learned. I thank God for being there when I finally got over myself and moved on.

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