Have you ever been angry at someone or something? I know I have. Have you ever held on to that anger longer after it was beneficial? I have. In fact, I learned recently I had held on to anger toward someone for a long time, long after it was time to let it go. I wanted to write this today as a warning to all of us. We can get stuck in our emotions at times and not even realize it. We waste our valuable time and energy. We also create frustration that is not ours to have or give to others. My hope is that you will take the time to examine yourself and determine if thought patterns and/or emotions need realigning so you don’t miss out on any part of the good life God has for you.
What exactly do I mean when I say “when anger is no longer beneficial?”
Anger can do good things for us. It lets us know when something is wrong either inside of us, in a situation or with a person we are interacting with. It also allows us to know when our boundaries have been violated. Getting angry at boundary violation, injustice or with a person who has done the violating or unjust act is not wrong. It’s what we do with that anger after the fact that can be the problem.
I stayed angry with a former friend for months over two decisions that were made by this person. I could not understand them and I knew that this individual could do better. I could not tell this person the truth about their decisions because they were not interested in truth so I walked away. I got stuck in my anger at that point because I honestly had no real opportunity to talk to them or have closure. I, however, did not realize I was stuck in my anger until much later. Anytime, I would think of this person I would get mad. I was still getting mad when I thought about them last month and I had not seen them in months! I had to stop myself recently and ask, “Wait a minute, what is going on here?” The Lord is so good! He showed me my thought process immediately. I got angry because injustice and evil had been done to someone else and this person had lied to me about it not once, but twice. I could not speak to them about it because of their lack of interest in the truth so the anger over injustice remained unresolved. I also took responsibility on unknowingly for those choices that were not my own which further fueled the anger.
Once I understood my thought process I had an ‘Ah Ha’ moment! First, this anger toward this person was taking up way to much energy. It was clear they did not care about our friendship nor did they wish to change their bad choices. Why was I letting their choices continue to make me angry? There was no point. I have no control over them nor do I want it. I also have no responsibility for their choices nor the consequences of those choices. Their choices were not my fault nor were they the result of anything I had done or said. Why be angry about someone you can’t control, don’t want to control and who is not interested in the truth? There is no point. They are hurting themselves, they are not hurting you. Were their choices wrong? Absolutely, but here is also what I know. God did not give me finite time and energy to use it be angry about people and things I can’t change. He did give me finite time and energy to make a difference about the things I can change. He did give me a purpose and a calling which I am fulfilling and figuring out day by day. My energy and time needs to be directed at those things, not on the bad decisions of someone else. The Lord also showed me that he will deal with the injustice and the wrong doing, I don’t have to shoulder that burden. He will deal with this person’s heart in time. My role is to pray for this person and I do that every single day. When you choose to spend your time and energy praying for someone instead of being angry at them, it changes your perspective of them. I honestly feel sorry for this person. I am sad for them. They are only doing what they know. They have not changed their thought processes – this is why it is so important to pray for them. The road they are traveling down will only lead to destruction and pain. I will petition God for them instead of spending my time being frustrated and angry at them which does not change their path. He changes people, I can’t do that.
I am taking a different path. I choose to be kind to those who have been hurt by this person’s choices. I have forgiven my former friend and I choose to pray for them. My hope is that those who have been hurt by them will also forgive them. I am no longer holding on to damaging anger that zaps my strength, time, attention, and energy. The Lord has too much for me to do to let anger stand in my way. As I said earlier, take a look at your own heart and see what is out of alignment. Remember, you are not responsible for other people. Sometimes, people give us no choice but to walk away, our time with them is either done or done for a period of time. Allow anger to show you what is wrong but do not allow it to stay in your heart. My hope is that one day my former friend can be a friend again, but if that is not the case, that will be fine too. Some people can’t follow you where you are going and that is okay.
Proverbs 4:23 NIV; Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Until next time, Elizabeth