Anger as a Controlled Burn
Anger, at its best, is a controlled burn. Farmers use controlled burns as a powerful tool to rid their land of invasive weeds and the clearing of cluttered, useless underbrush. Burn, baby burn. At first glance, the charred land may seem desolate, but a deep enrichment has begun under the surface.
Anger is a powerful tool to do the same in our relationships. If used properly, the countermeasure of anger can protect the sacred, and act as a great natural evocation to reconstruct boundaries in their proper place. Once subsided, old relationships can regain an altered footing and a great, new nourishing can begin. Look at the grand Sequoia, like some relationships in our lives, their greatness will only unfurl from seed after a mighty burn.
Looking back, I used to dampen the power and usefulness of anger every time there was even a sign of smoldering. My discomfort with these strange feelings would wet the wick of proper passion and so the weeds in my relationships propagated. I was scared to lose what I had and, so I refused to speak up. Fear choked anger and then devastation creeped onto the sacred.
Pent-up, small explosions of anger used unwisely would burst forth yet work ineffectively. The hidden roots of weeds would remain. By not knowing how to use the tool of anger appropriately, I was allowing the invaders to accumulate over time. Sometimes the truth of our anger and the boundaries it creates can burn our loved ones. But, what about “speaking the truth in love” (found in Ephesians 4:15NIV)? Sounds like a controlled burn to me. Let tempered anger have its stringent, powerful, and restorative work but don’t let it run like a wildfire (remembering Ephesians 4:26 NIV: “In your anger do not sin…”). There is a careful balance to be found here.
God seems to use his anger mindfully, taking the greatest precision in its application, using it with the purest of intent, and greatest of mercy. Let us be the same.
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” – Psalm 103:8-10 NIV
SOME ADDITIONAL NOTES:
“Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, this is not easy.” – Aristotle
By far, Psalm 4:4-5 has been one Bible verse that has changed the way I operate and influenced my life for the better in a myriad of choices throughout the years. Instead of lashing out, it has given me a process to see past the fruitless actions of anger and boil it down to the crux of the matter, reveal my next move, and give me peace where there was none. I can choose to exchange flagrant reaction for measured response.
“Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD.” Psalms 4:4-5 NKJV
When we haven’t given ourselves enough time to process our emotions we can exhibit a lot of emotional flapping. Angry faces. Hot puffy breathing. Lots and lots of words. Sometimes those around us (especially men) don’t handle this as well than if we had taken the time to work through our feelings and narrow it all down to one nugget of truth mixed with vulnerability, dignity, and the thoughtful alignment with healthy new boundaries.
We can become poised, gracious, measured, open minded, respectful, serious yet compassionate, kind yet extremely truthful, and simply to-the-point. Yet we can’t reach this nugget hidden inside of us, or present it well, until we have dug through the surface emotions. This is our work.
“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…”
Philippians 2:12B NKJV