I had an unsettling experience a few days ago. I got in a fight, an escalated, angry theological argument with a friend. I used to do it all the time, you know. Match wits, clash of ideas, etc. There was always a feeling that went along with it that all of Christianity was riding on my shoulders, and if I failed to convince my opponent, or at least best him with my shining reason, that I would be losing something of my self, my identity, of my safety, of my right to have my faith. It was a terrifying venture, trying to strong arm my ideas down someone's brain. I recall not being able to walk away. I was like an angry animal, embarrassed, insistent, obsessed.
Somewhere along the line (I think it was after reading Blue Like Jazz) I realized that people are real,that they are not just extras and props in the movie about my life. And that God actually likes everyone else as much as He likes me. And that He can stand up for Himself. He doesn't get a pass/fail grade all on my ability to describe and convince everyone of His existence and intentions. I can just enjoy people. And share what I know about Him when it fits. Which, it turns out, is practically all the time.
So, how did i get from my recent status as mellow, wise sage to angry red faced seething anger machine hurling thinly veiled insults across the van to my dear friend in defense of my understanding of scripture as pertaining to an important but not life and death point of theology???
I don't know. It scared me. I thought I'd left that angry frantic person behind. I thought I was in command of my feelings enough to avoid losing control like that. I thought I had achieved the composure to be civil even under duress. I was so wrong.
The last decade of my life has taught me that I can control, subjugate and compress my anger very carefully. But it is still in there. I'm not even sure how to get rid of all of my anger, or process things in a non angry way. But I think I have a lot of anger. I took a survey in an anger management book, and I came out in the red zone. I took a week of silence, and I felt enraged all the time. When I'm in pain, I am furious. I'm not sure how and why this happens. I just know I try to cover it up and contain it.
I'm starting to think maybe I can just choose not to be angry. That I am not required to respond with anger and outrage to every circumstance that seems unjust. But I have a lot to learn. Congratulations to you, dear friend, for showing myself just how far from enlightened I truly am. That is a lesson I am still smarting from.