Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Don't Get Mad; Get Even

Have you felt anger today? If it’s early in the day when you’re reading this, did you actually wake up with anger? I know people who live their entire lives like this, with anger and resentment as constant companions.  They can’t really enjoy the company of this awful emotion, but they get so accustomed to their “friend,” that they begin to perpetuate that mad feeling by feeding into it.  Like all of our emotions, what we feed grows, and what we starve dies.

Modern life is generous in handing out reasons to feel angry.  The news is on the television, blaring tragedy and injustice, stupidity and emptiness.  Your bills are piling up, and yet some folks you know seem to be swimming in the big bucks.  You can't get your weight under control.  You can't get your kids under control.  You can't get your self under control. 

If nothing makes you angry today, you can conveniently dip into your past for old reasons to get angry.  They're always ready to serve, aren't they? Your parents fell far below the ideal.  Your ex-spouse or ex-girlfriend gutted you and left you on the side of the road for dead, emotionally and financially speaking. You were bullied throughout all twelve years of school, and no one did a thing to intervene. 

How can we starve our anger? Well, if it’s righteous anger, the kind the saints addressed, then we should turn it into action, fighting against the evils of the world. There are many ways to do this that don’t involve sinning in thought, word, or deed. We are, after all, the Church militant! Find other Christians who are angry about the same evils that you are. Find ministries that are solving problems, not just fomenting rage around them. Donate to organizations that provide ways to alleviate  the social ills that make you angry. Educate and increase awareness of unjust situations. Find a Saint who got (righteously) angry and then proceeded to get things done! Anger is natural, and can even be a gift if it's anger at an insult to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Church. But you must DO something with it -- channel it.  Or it simply becomes bubble gum for your mind and useless emotionalism for your spirit. 

If it’s a personal anger, a simmering feeling of rage bubbling just below the surface, then we have to regain our equanimity.  We have to get “even.” Even tempered, that is.

“I’m not even tempered by nature!”, you respond.  Lucky for you, then, that we have a God who can make all things new! He can change your very heart! But you have to bring him your anger in prayer, leave it at the foot of the cross like you would any pain, and let Him turn it into something new, something He can use for the betterment of The Kingdom. When was the last time you sat in front of the Blessed Sacrament? Now there is a place to vent some sinful (or bordering on sinful) anger.  Jesus will tell you just what to do with that emotion, and He will also melt your ice while He is at it. 

Jesus did turn over the tables at the Temple.  And He wept.  He was like us in every way but sin. He understands your anger, and He knows (because He made you) that your anger is probably a veil covering your sadness, your worry, your fear, your weakness, your vulnerability, your frustration, your inadequacy.  Jesus can and will help you make progress with ALL of these root causes of anger. Don't let your anger develop into a pattern of emotion - tantrum - guilt - distance from Jesus.  When our emotions are spinning out of control, and threatening our obedience and our reason, the FIRST thing we need is super close proximity to Jesus, and that right soon. Amen?