He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit is better than he who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32
2. Forgiveness is hard because ~ there’s a reluctance to let go of toxic anger.
A woman who suffered one loss after another told me, “I feel like I have lost everything, Christine, and all I have left is anger. It makes me feel powerful. I function on surges of adrenalin. I even dream of starting a movement to help others who suffer what I have suffered. How is this a bad thing?” I explained to her, “Because of what anger does to you on the inside.”
I have learned that there is was freedom I never knew. It was on the other side of forgiveness. There was a surge of lasting energy I never guessed was there. It was on the other side of forgiveness. There was a mission waiting to be born that would be driven by the wind of the Spirit instead of rage. It was on the other side of forgiveness. Toxic anger only felt good because I hadn’t experienced the gifts of forgiveness waiting for me at the opposite end of the continuum.
I appreciate this quote by Frederick Beuchner.
“To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over a bitter confrontation still to come, well – in many ways it’s a feast for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”
A modern day proverb, one you may have heard before, also sums this up. “The anger of un-forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” This is the lie that Satan wraps in glitter and encourages me to embrace as the truth. My anger feels good and I believe it will hurt the other person but in reality, I’m the one who has drunk the poison.
The over-arching question, I believe, is this. Did Jesus harbor toxic anger? No. He listened to His Father for the proper immediate response and they were varied. Sometimes walk away. Sometimes stay silent. Other times, speak up because His Father was offended. There was no uniform response. God showed him incident by incident. If my anger has been simmering, and it’s old, it’s time to start a fresh page.
Let today be a new day for the one wasting away under the cancer of unresolved anger. Amen