Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wrapped up in Wrath

Disclaimer: I am not a saint.  I don't have 40+ years of life experience being above sin.  This is just the opinion of a 20-something-year-old woman who is on fire for God.  I'm trying every day to beat the sin that has been part of my life for the last several years.  Please feel free to leave some of your own advice to help out your fellow man or woman.

Welcome to the first post about the Seven Deadly Sins! I know, exciting right?  But understanding how to battle the sins that exist in everyday life is one big step in the right direction towards intentionally living a life for God.  So I figured I would dive right in with one of the Seven that has played a big role in my life for the last few years: Anger.

Anger is a monster I've battled under the surface for most of my life.  I don't think people would describe me as an "angry person" but it's definitely there.  If you don't have control of your anger, then your anger controls you.  And for the last 7 years or so, my anger defiantly had control over me.

Everyone has anger, but in both high school and the first part of college I participated in activities that only served to fuel that anger.  I would get mad when my team would not do well at a competition.  I would start fuming when something went wrong regarding the play I was in.  School, chores, friendships, anything that I had no control over or didn't go as I had planned made me angry.  I would rant and rave, feel so pent up that I would just want to scream.  

My freshmen year of college, I ended up taking a medication for a health issue but unfortunately it had a side effect of affecting my moods.  Not only did I become extremely depressed while taking it, but it also made my anger a lot harder to control.  While I never actually became physically violent towards anyone (many who took this same medication did become violent as a side effect), my anger would build up to the point where I felt like I was about to burst.  I'd smack the wall really hard if I lost my headphones. I'd throw things around if something fell and I was cleaning it up.  I periodically lashed out at friends who did not deserve it at all.

Everyone can see these signs of "aggressive anger" (screaming, hitting, breaking things, etc) but for many people I know the danger of anger lies in its passivity.  This is where I feel the real sin comes in.  Sure, you may not throw a tantrum when someone takes a promotion for you, but you start to give that person the cold shoulder and undercut their achievements.  This, my friends, is "passive anger" and it is one of the biggest problems for me personally.  It's so easy to think that just because it doesn't bust out of you in a fit of rage you don't have any anger.  Scroll down on this Wiki article to see just how many behaviors are linked to passive anger.  I know I have done many of these things, not realizing that they were linked to my anger that I was trying to bury and control.

This is not an easy thing to overcome.  Anger is a sin that, especially in America, seems to almost be praised.  (In fact, many of the Seven Deadly Sins have become key components of our culture)  Aggressiveness is a good thing in the corporate world and in certain cities, if you are not an aggressive driver, you will not get to where you need to go.  But anger can be defeated.  

I have lots of things that used to make me really angry.  My boss, my ex, my Latin homework, and countless other everyday things.  I'm still trying to bring out all my angry skeletons from my mental closet, analyzing each one to see why I am so angry in regards to that idea (or person or event or thing or homework assignment…).  Asking myself that simple question and trusting God to help me move past this sinful anger has really helped me.  But sometimes you just need more help, so I recommend talking to a trusted friend or spiritual advisor.  Someone with an outside perspective can help you figure out why you keep holding onto your anger, and help you to figure out how to let go.

Sin is hard enough to combat, but a sin like anger is even more difficult because it is one of the many things that society says is ok.  Our culture fuels these feelings and tells us that they are something that can be good.  Fight these messages, and turn your anger over to God, so that you can be filled with the love and grace of the Lord.

What are some of your ways of dealing with things that make you angry?  Do you find prayer or reading the bible to be helpful? Feel free to share in the comments, I'm sure I'd love to hear your own personal stories and tips.

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