Posts Tagged ‘anger’

Ten Lessons for Long Life – Something We Need Now

November 30, 2016

I have published this slide before, but I thought that some of the points needed an emphasis these days.

Let us consider “More Laughter; Less Anger.”

Some people may say, “But times are bad, we need to express anger at ( fill in your favorite hate here   ).” You can’t talk facts to emotion, but we are actually in general much better off than previous generations. Even “poor” people can go to Wal-Mart and buy cheap stuff–but still stuff that the middle class or wealthy have. We live in much larger houses. Most of us have plenty of cars. Many of us have storage sheds either in our back yards or that we rent to hold our stuff.

We can choose to find humor and laugh more.

Let us also consider “More Giving; Less Wanting.”

We want so much stuff. We want higher paying jobs–without putting forth the effort to learn new skills or deepen our knowledge. People who mindfully set aside money to give to specific charities find they can live on the rest adequately. They find that they actually have plenty.

Or as a Buddhist proverb says, “Enough is a feast.”

“More chewing; Less swallowing.” Let’s slow down. Enjoy what we have. We’ll eat less–something most of us need to practice.

We choose these lifestyles. We choose the path of unhealthy negativity. We can also choose the path of health, enjoyment, generosity.

These are all disciplines. We choose to be a better person that people want to be around.

Especially these days, let’s try the More Laughing; Less Anger route. You can choose to let the President-Elect get your emotions riled up one way or the other. Or, you can choose to walk with God secure in the knowledge that we know who wins in the end. And it’s not politics.

What Is It Like To Live A Life In Anger?

September 29, 2016

“How do people live with themselves being angry all the time?”

Saw this on Facebook. A guy I know. Nice guy. Got mad at the woman making a sandwich for him. Felt bad all day.

Do you know that feeling? I do. I hate myself (well, maybe not that strong, but you get the idea) when I allow a temporary emotion create a rift–even when I don’t know the other person.

Mostly I smile and greet people and try to add a little light into their day. Then there are times.

But my friend asks a very perceptive question.

How do people live with themselves when they are always angry? Or, how to people who live with them or deal with them often live with it?

It must be terrible to never feel good. To never feel the love of God breaking through. Oh, they may talk about God, but can they really feel love through the anger? How sad to waste a life like that.

It’s even worse than the gloomy guy who always has something negative to say. My health is bad and the doctors are stupid. Or, the new boss is as big a jerk as the last one (pattern?).

I try to avoid the downer people. But the angry people, they can ruin a good day. Either they provoke anger in response, or at best create feelings of anxiety, distrust, or distance.

I have no advice. It’s difficult to conjure up sympathy. That deep seated anger comes from some emotion probably brewing for years. Or maybe a recent medical condition.

Best is to avoid them. But if they are family or co-worker, best is to try to step back mentally and gain perspective. “I’m not going to let them ruin my day.”

But it must be tough to live in a state of continual anger. Guts all worked up. Nothing goes right. People avoid you. Sad.

Imagine What A Wonderful World

September 23, 2016
I see trees of green,
red roses too.
I see them bloom,
for me and you.
And I think to myself,
what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue,
And clouds of white.
The bright blessed day,
The dark sacred night.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow,
So pretty in the sky.
Are also on the faces,
Of people going by,
I see friends shaking hands.
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying,
“I love you.”
–Louis Armstrong
Bill Hybels, Sr. Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, once talked about a staff retreat they held a few years ago. They told him that he should be teaching more. He said, “Oh, no, not that. Teaching is so hard for me.”
Well one reason it is so hard is that he tackles difficult topics. He doesn’t go for the easy softballs. And he does it with depth and sensitivity even while knowing that it will be a challenging message for many listeners.
So listening to him talking during his Sept. 18 taking on the topic of hate, I wasn’t surprised.
The amount of hate I see and hear just tears up my heart. People we might suppose to be good people post some of the most hateful things on social media. Even in casual conversations with people I may meet I hear hateful comments.
Much of the time, I think that the people posting such things or uttering such things would be shocked to be told that they are being hateful. Many think it is merely funny. Some think it is only descriptive.
Alongside that emotion is that of anger. Turn on many of the so-called “news channels” and you hear people screaming at each other—all in the name of raising emotions among enough listeners that the ratings are sufficient to attract advertisers.
Hybels opened the Bible to find an example of hate. He found it in Jonah. You know, the fish guy.
God told Jonah to go preach to the people of Nineveh sharing God’s love for them and the right response to that love. He wanted the people of the city to repent so that he didn’t have to destroy it and all the people in it.
Jonah, hated Nineveh. With good reason. The leaders of the city were cruel, warlike people. They sparked fear in all the area. Kind of like an ISIS. Jonah hated it so much that rather than obey God, he ran away in the opposite direction.
We know the story—a big storm out of character for that season on the Mediterranean came upon them; they discovered the reason was Jonah, they threw him overboard; the storm stopped; a fish came and rescued Jonah; took him back to Palestine and deposited him. So Jonah says, “OK God, you win. I’ll go. But I don’t like it.”
So he goes to the city and preaches. Repent and change your ways, follow the ways of the Lord or you will perish. They did. Was Jonah happy? No. He hated them. He went off and sulked. He said to God, I knew this would happen. I knew you would save them. But I’d rather that they were destroyed.
There is the story of God versus hate.
Hybels didn’t leave there. He offered help for avoiding hate. I’ve written about some of these before. Good tips.
  • Fill yourself with the love of God daily.
  • Steer clear of places that are full of hate: Websites, Talk TV, violent movies, cage fighting.
  • Hang out with radically loving people—the vision of the Acts 2 church.
Remember what Paul wrote to the people in Corinth (1 Cor 13), “and these three abide, faith, hope, and love, and the greatest is love.”
Imagine what it would be if we all lived that teaching. Sing it Louis.

Receiving Grace, Giving Grace

August 16, 2016

It was the end of a group meeting. It’s where we pray for each other and go home.

The study for the day was the part of Ephesian 4 where Paul is describing Christian life. About speaking the truth in gentleness and love. About focusing on others.

Then out of nowhere someone erupts in anger, “The church is going to hell. It accepts homosexuals.”

I thought, “Huh? Where did that come from?”

Well, it came from the depths of the things he dwells his thoughts in. He’d never admit hatred, but the tone of his voice betrayed him.

It was a shocking end to a study of grace.

It just shows the distance between your head and your heart. You can “learn” things but it may not change your heart.

I was affected by John Fischer’s latest Catch newsletter:

Grace doesn’t just stop with my receiving it; it goes on in the way I give it out. The way we are treated will affect the way we treat others.

This is an important part of receiving from God; it changes us. You can’t receive God’s grace without giving it out to others. You can’t receive what you don’t deserve and then go out and make everyone else pay.

I know it’s hard to live a life full of grace. And it’s hard to offer grace to other people. And I know that anger is an honest emotion. But anger also often betrays the condition of our heart. It reveals insecurities, prejudices, ignorance.

Those are the moments when I am grieved. What hope is there when people who receive grace refuse to give it on to someone else.

And, wow, our society could use a big dose of grace right now! From everyone.

Inappropriate Explosions of Emotion

April 19, 2016

I had a conversation with a coach yesterday describing an inappropriate explosion of emotion I experienced over the weekend. And no, it wasn’t me!

It dealt with a coach explosion on the sideline of a game and subsequent venting in public. The coach I was talking with said, “Hmm, I’d better learn from that. Take a deep breath. I can get carried away at times.”

There actually exists a time for anger. Sometimes you just have to show emotion. There is a referee I know who is very good. Her weakness? She is always too nice. Sometimes you have to have “the look” that tells players she’s unhappy with that action.

I bet she develops “the look” when she gets married…OK, we won’t go there.

The deep breath comment is worth digesting.

Most times our anger is not that of an honest response to a wrong. It rather springs from sources such as wounded pride or excess of ego. Some of the angriest people are also the most insecure.

Andy Stanly discusses “what have we got to fear” on his current Your Move series.

Security comes from a deep relationship with God. Usually that was modeled by secure parents. If you were not so fortunate, perhaps a spouse or other relationship. Perhaps you could be that model of relationship to help someone overcome the fear and anger that resides deeply within.

In normal life, the deep breath before shouting at the kids or referees will save both us and others injured feelings and discord.

I go to my model. Jesus dealt with all manner of interruptions and even hate with patience and even-temperedness. However, when he was unhappy with the way the religious leaders were ripping off pilgrims to the Temple, he did not hesitate to show his anger at the sacrilege.

Deep breath. Slow release. Ahhhh. Now go face the day.

Speaking That Leads To Anger

March 14, 2016

He would say something about another person. That would lead to something else. Another thought would pop into his mind and out of his mouth with no filter in between. His face would get red. He’d grow agitated in movement. More, and worse, stuff would flow from his mouth.

The apostle James (1:19) tells us to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

I never connected the speak –> anger continuum until I read this thought and then remembered a guy I knew.

How often we get ourselves wound up. And the more we go, the louder we get. The louder we become, the more violent our language.

I still remember with much shame the last time it happened to me. It was years ago. I knew it was happening. I couldn’t stop. I can advise others; I can’t do it myself.

News reporters continue to talk about how presidential candidate Donald Trump uses inflammatory speech that appeals to the “angry white man” foundation to his campaign. I don’t know how true it is, but it makes sense. I know many “angry white men”. Not all will vote for Trump, but all are sympathetic.

Now I read about how violence among supporters and detractors breaks out at his campaign appearances. It works from the outside, too. One person getting more and more belligerent incites others to become more belligerent.

James is right about our words. It is useful in life to be careful what we say. Words reflect emotions. Then they incite emotions. Then we get angry. Anger leads to regret.

Most people need to be listened to. Be swift to hear, James says. Help other people feel worth something. After all, they are all God’s children, too.

Be swift to hear. Learn what bothers them. What brings them joy. Why they are in sorrow. Just listen. Most of the time there’s no need to commentary or advice–especially advice. Just look them in the eyes and nod your head.

James was wise. Follow his advice, and you’ll fool people into thinking you also are wise.

Do You Know What Pulls Your Trigger?

February 15, 2016

Jesus was annoyed by a fig tree that had no fruit. He cursed it. It died.

Jesus was angered by how the Temple had been converted from a holy place of worship into a commercial marketplace where apparently people gouged gullible pilgrims with high prices. He overturned tables scattering money and “souvenirs”.

In a way, I don’t feel so bad about the times I’ve lost it–except I wasn’t nearly so righteous.

Do you know what pulls your trigger?

I haven’t had a bad one for years. The incident is embedded in memory. It recurs in a flash. It’s a blend of insecurity and attitude. I hold great dislike for arrogant and condescending attitudes. Especially from someone less experienced or knowledgeable who tries to teach.

There are warning signs I need to remain aware of. Sometimes I see it coming. Sometimes they sneak up on me and catch me asleep, so to speak.

  • When I’m tired.
  • When I’m overworked and frazzled.
  • When I’m stressed.

There were a couple of seasons of life over the past 10 years or so when stress buried itself deep within me. Meditation and Yoga–no help. Awareness and mindfulness–no help. I know all this stuff, yet, a mild but persistent living with stress took a toll on my health and response to others at times.

Recognition is a great first step. Probably talking with others would help–if they the helpful sort, not the enabling sort.

A recent talk from a person with a similar experience was enlightening. He tried mindfulness. Meditation–trying to be still and focus on breath was more stressful than his original stress.

He discovered curiosity. He rather toyed with the thoughts. Was curious about them. Asked questions of them. Explored what their hold was. By treating the stressful thoughts as an object of curiosity, he was able to move them from the dominant place of consciousness that gripped him.

He was right. When you finally realize the stressful thought and stop to analyze it, just the stopping helps. Then the curiosity and the calmer exploring of the situation brings peace–or at least a plan of action.

What do you find that works?

Fear, Anger, Lives Matter

January 21, 2016

My friend called this evening. He has Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s not very social, but deep down he really wants to connect. On the other hand, connections with people are stressful. 

He asked what I was doing. Reading the news, I replied. He said, “I never read the news. Too depressing.” 

I agreed. Said I mostly read tech news.

He’s right about the news. We learn about almost every murder in the world. In fact, it’s always about murder, shootings, rapes, confrontations, hostility, war. “If it bleeds, it leads” was the old newspaper mantra. That’s even more important in this 24-hour constant news cycle where eyeballs on the screen are crucial to financial success. (I was in the business.)

Inundation of stories of killing raises fear in the hearts of many. Fear often plays out in anger. We have lots of anger in the world. Even in America where things are really pretty good (don’t tell my Facebook “friends” that, they glory in bad news).

It seems everything gets politicized. Every life matters to God. But some people think that Black lives don’t matter to the white majority in this country. So, we get another bumper sticker slogan. Which leads good Christian conservative people to counter with “Blue Lives Matter” (policemen).

I’m not following all the election stuff very closely, but I will admit to having occasional nightmares about a Trump/Sanders election. Where would the other 75% of the voters go?

None of this helps the discussion. Where is the peacemaker when we need her? 

John Fischer wrote on The Catch “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.” He pondered the thought about what would have happened in the 60s with the pent up anger and frustration of black people without the non-violent leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. Think of the riots after he was killed.

I read my Facebook news feed (more infrequently now) and see anger, fear, racism. I know most of these people. If asked, most would deny being angry, fearful, cynical, racist. But their words belie them.

Bill Hybels expressed his wish of the same thing last Sunday following a talk on race relations at Willow Creek. Our church stands firmly for good relations among those of various races, he said. “If you don’t agree, don’t let the door hit you in the back on your way out.” He’s just that strong–and concerned.

It’s not one of Richard J. Foster’s 12 Spiritual Disciplines, but I view peacemaking as a Spiritual Discipline–or Practice, if you wish. 

I’m way too low key. Most of my “talking” is with my fingers on a keyboard. Those of us who have perspective and take Jesus seriously for what he told us, need to step up the game.

Letting Anger Pollute Us

July 8, 2014

The US was caught up in World Cup fever even more than in the past. Soccer news has become more prominent. Unfortunately, not all that news is good. A referee in Michigan was just killed when an adult player became angry with a call and “sucker-punched” him in the head.

I’m not going to weigh in on the Second Amendment arguments, which carry more emotion than logic anyway. I do watch with increasing discomfort the wish of many to want to carry guns with them wherever they go. So many of the people I know about or read about who want guns are carrying anger with them. If there is someone I definitely don’t want around me, it’s someone with anger issues carrying a weapon where once you pull the trigger, there’s no “do over”.

Politics in America today involve much anger. I’ve read about “angry white men.” But there is no monopoly on anger in the country by any one group.

The thing that disappoints me more than about anything is reading Facebook posts from self-proclaimed Christians that are full of anger and cynicism.

Let’s look into Proverbs for guidance. “One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.” (16:32)

I can remember a time in my life when anger was perhaps my controlling emotion. Then one day I had one of those experiences where you are outside of your body watching yourself in action. I thought, “How stupid.” I was maybe 13.

As Robert Burns, the Scottish poet put it (from Wikipedia):

Burns original
O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!

Standard English translation
And would some Power the small gift give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion:
What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
And even devotion!

That one experience led to a life of controlling anger. Realizing that anger is an honest emotion that can help us overcome obstacles. But uncontrolled, it is a blazing sword that severs relationships and a poison that pollutes our lives.

The antidote is the inner peace and security that comes from nowhere but God.