Anger is a very human emotion. We can get angry for all sorts of reasons… some of them reasonable and some, well, maybe not so much. There are plenty of valid reasons for healthy anger and righteous indignation. If a loved one is being hurt or abused, for instance, that would be a healthy and appropriate thing that could get you fired up. Still, many people go through life with anger only a half step away from their normal emotional state, losing it over ideological disagreements… and this is becoming more and more common, especially in these stressful times.
Some try to keep it healthy and channel that anger out through meditation or prayer, while others may go for a run or hit a punching bag. Other people take a less healthy approach and go to social media, picking on people over all things political or religious. Their only joy seems to come from being able to best someone else or trying to make someone else feel worse than they do. And, there are a lot of angry responses in between that we have all dabbled in.
Mostly, people don’t even realize consciously why they are walking around in such an angry state. Whether that person is you or someone you know, it is hard to escape this sort of anger in our modern lives, because it is everywhere. It is chronic… and it is doing nothing for either your soul or your mental health.
Why Opinions Trigger Anger
In many cases, anger stems from being too attached to views and opinions. Once opinions start to become part of your identity (or that of someone you know), you might start to see attacks on those views as attacks to your person or character. Then, you might find yourself not only getting defensive, but going on the offense because you have skin in the game. That’s your ego talking… not your spiritual center. Even if you feel it is righteous in the moment, defending a position with anger comes from nowhere else but your sense of self — and certainly not your soul.
This isn’t healthy for your mind, and it can also put up a huge roadblock in your spiritual life… a wedge between yourself and God. Sure, you might not notice it at first, but as time goes by and life becomes more of a struggle, it will feel like a rock weighing you down.
That is when you have to ask yourself why your sense of self is attached to a moment, a movement, a view or another person’s actions. That isn’t what God wanted or planned for you.
This isn’t your fault. It isn’t even the fault of the person you know who does this. You’re still amazing, even when your anger bubbles up, and your passion is admirable. The entire point, though, is that this is subconscious. When we attach ourselves to a point or opinion and become loyal to it the way we might be to a sports team or other fandom, we don’t even realize that it starts to creep into our sense of self. That is one of the reasons we are warned to be in the world but not “of” the world. Because humans, not just me, not just you, not just your Aunt Becky or Grandpa Jack, are, by definition, fallen and imperfect — and tend to fall prey to this kind of mindset unless we check ourselves every single day.
Why Checking Ourselves Helps
Once we back up and remember that treating our neighbor the way we want to be treated is the standard (even if we do not agree with them) and that playing to the ego is the downfall, we win. The gospel wasn’t kidding when it said that if someone takes your shirt, you should also give them your cloak. Now, that doesn’t mean you should allow someone to take advantage of you. That means our own ego gets in our way and we hold our own opinions too tightly in our chests. If we have to tear down someone else to feel good about ourselves, we are doing the exact opposite of what we should be doing in God’s eyes.
Be open to new information as it updates and changes. If you feel strongly about something, also be interested in learning new information that both confirms and challenges your feelings. Become an expert on the opposing views. Dig in deeper, and don’t let your all-too-human knee-jerk reaction lead you down a path away from the light. Will it change your opinion? Maybe. Maybe not. But what it will absolutely do is make you so confident and strong that there won’t be a reason to need to make it part of your identity.
God’s going to take care of the sins and the sinners however He so chooses. When we realize that opinions can change with new information and that God is the only constant, there’s no reason to live in that lit up, angry place. We can have the peace that was intended for us to have, and we can gently educate (when called for) without the need to berate. After all, we are here to protect and love one another… even when we don’t agree.
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