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growing up in a postmodern world
the heart of our anger
02.17.2008 / Bruce Marcey
how healthy is our anger, and where does it come from? what does James say about it?
notes by Kate Ferguson
The big take away from today: Our anger reveals our heart’s condition. And for the sake of this Take It Further, let’s just go ahead and say we’re not talking about righteous anger, the anger Tamara mentioned Jesus exhibited towards money changers in the temple. We’re talking about the other kind, the kind that matters because it robs us of our joy and keeps us from living the life God intends for us. The kind that matters because it also, thankfully, gives us clues into ways in which we are heartbroken and in need of healing.
I think it is important to first reemphasize Bruce’s point that there are many ways in which anger manifests itself. To name a few: there is fury and rage, but also self-hatred, the disdain of others, passive aggressiveness, pettiness, frustration, creating distance, to suppressing feelings to the point that one doesn’t even know they are there.
I imagine this will be the work for all of us this week and beyond. To begin with understanding what our anger looks like and then beginning to pray over what it reveals about the condition of our souls. An idea could be to break the process down into pieces, but I must highlight that these pieces are cyclical rather than linear, with each one leading back to deeper introspection and learning, and none easily accomplished in a week.
The first challenge would be to meditate ways in which we are angry that we might not realize. To ask:
What does my anger look like?
Where am I angry?
This might not be easy. Bruce suggested that we might find the words of the psalmist helpful:
“Search me, oh God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”*
Secondly, as we begin to know better the ways we are angry, it seems natural to pause and consider what it shows us about our internal life:
> Why am I angry?
> Where is my heart broken?
What clue does this anger give me into the deepest needs of my soul?
Lastly, we can consider what to do with the unmet needs of our souls?
Where can I pray for God to heal my soul and join me in the process of claiming the life He offers?
Are there relationships to mend, forgiveness to seek, or conversations to have?
Do I need to pray for strength to lay down my anger and begin to explore the real desires of my soul which have been obstructed by it?
In the midst of all this suggesting, I feel compelled to share that I believe any authentic journey must be one that makes sense to our own selves. So maybe none of what I’ve just written will be helpful for you, and I would say then the challenge is simply to find out what is helpful. Our individual stories are unique, so are the paths we must travel to understand them. Praying for you on your journey.
*Note: If you wish, you can look up this and other Bible passages online at biblegateway.com
Copyright © 2008 Kate Ferguson