Monday, September 16, 2013

On Anger and Forgiveness

This is a blog post on anger. The beginning is a bit of a personal analogy, but that’s only to give you the background needed so I can use myself as an example. :) Just bear with me through the personal analogy to the main point of the post.
If you had asked me in the past—to be honest, even if you asked me now—if I stood up for what I believed in, I would probably hem-and-haw until finally shrugging. I never was sure if I was brave enough to stand up for who or what I believed in. The only times I ever did stand up for things were actually me throwing tantrums. *sheepish smile* That doesn’t count, obviously.

Well, as of late, one of my big brothers has been teaching me how to stand up for what I believe in, and to speak my mind if I have something I want to say—the two things I have trouble doing.

I still become nervous when a chance comes for me to use my voice and speak up for something, but I’m getting there. I’m learning, and I’m getting better at it.

Recently, I received several chances to stick up for someone I loved; one of my brothers. I was afraid, yes. But the funny thing is, I love my brother too much to hear people spreading rumors about him. So… in a way… my love overrode my fear.

The first chance, I admit… it was the first time I had heard any of these rumors, and instead of standing up and speaking out, I spent a good few hours crying. The sudden onslaught of information I had received, plus certain fears of mine and my unstable emotions, just caused my system to shut down while I found myself being battered in an attack of anxiety and tears.

After getting myself under control though (it took until the next day, to be honest), I instigated the second chance myself and messaged the person who had been spreading rumors to me the day before. I wasn’t as outspoken as I could or should have been; but I told her exactly where I stood and made it clear I didn’t believe a word of anything she had told me.

That was the first time in a long while I have stood up for anything.

The third chance came around, and this time I held nothing back. I forced myself to stay polite, but I challenged this young woman’s statements, told her exactly what I thought and believed, and questioned her.

During that chat, I was scared, yes. But then… after the conversation ended, I realized I felt sort of… relieved, in a way. A bit happy, as it were. I think the reason for that is because I had found the courage to speak my mind, yes—but I also think part of the reason was because I had defended the integrity of someone I cared about.

*smiles a little* There’s nothing quite like it, I don’t think; the feeling you get when you defend a family member or a friend, because you care about them so deeply. I don’t even know how to describe the feeling; just that it’s nice.

Now… that was not the main point of this post. See, I just said all of that to give you a background to go on so I could use myself as an example. The entire thing about me standing up for what I believe in I used because that’s often the only time I find myself getting angry; when defending someone else. Anyway, the main point I was getting at is this:

Yes, it is good to stand up for what you believe in. Yes, it is good to speak your mind. And yes, it is even good to have your own opinions. But you cannot let anger or bitterness catch hold of you when you do or think those things.

I say this because I’m receiving those feelings as well right now. Even now; a good month after the last conversation I had. *wry smile* See, during that third and final confrontation… not only was I slightly scared, I was also angry.

In my head, even now, there’s this nagging feeling of indignance (why is spellcheck telling me that’s not a word? I thought it was…). And I realized that while going through old chat logs yesterday afternoon.

I’m still kind of angry with this person; and it gets worse when I think of all the dreadful claims they make about my brother.

See… I’m struggling to keep the anger down, and keep from messaging this person to confront them again. Because, for one, I’ve already said all that needs saying. Messaging them would serve no purpose but to give me the chance to vent out my anger.

That’s not right. And that’s what I’m trying to explain to you.

Sometimes, a little bit of righteous anger can help you stand strong when you tell someone what you believe in or stand for. But when you’re still bitter and angry about something—anything—weeks after things have settled down… you need to sit yourself down, read your Bible, pray, and have a good think about the situation (as in carefully considering every aspect of it; not dwelling on and mulling over everything that made you angry).

That’s something I plan on doing myself. And I encourage anyone who feels similarly to me to do the same.

The Bible has quite a bit to say about anger, but three verses stood out to me. I’ll comment on them each in turn. The first one was this:

Ephesians 4:26-27 – ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

It’s clearly stating that you should not let anger make its home in your heart; if you do, you’re giving the devil more of an opportunity to make you stumble and—in extreme cases—fall. It’s a good principle to keep to—do not let the sun go down before you have made amends and banished the anger from your heart.

Ephesians 4:31-32 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.

I seem to come back to this verse quite often recently, and with good reason. It’s true, and a very good reminder. You need to get rid of your bitterness and anger, and forgive your enemies; or, those who made you angry in the first place.

Yes, I know it’s hard. I’m still struggling with it myself, remember? But what you need to do is pray—pray for Christ to help you forgive as he forgave.

There was a story I read in my high school curriculum yesterday about Corrie Ten Boom, a Jew who survived being a prisoner in a concentration camp.

She was in a church and speaking a message to the congregation. It ended, and on her way out, a German man walked up to her—and she realized he had been one of the guards from the camp. All sorts of bad and painful memories came rushing back to her.

He told her, “
How grateful I am for your message. Fraulein." he said. "To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” Then he held his hand out to her, so that she could shake it.

She froze. And then she realized she couldn’t bring herself to shake his hand. She felt bitterness and anger and vengefulness towards him, and couldn’t let go of those feelings. Here, let me quote what I read in my curriculum:

And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me, and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness. As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.


Amazing!

See? It’s hard. And how much harder must it have been for her to forgive someone who had more than likely caused her and her loved ones so much pain! But with God’s strength, she forgave him, and even felt love towards him.

Pray. It is the most effective weapon you have against every problem in your life.

One last verse before I wrap up this blog post:

James 1:19-20 – My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

This one is simple—it tells Christians to listen, think before they speak, and to keep from being angry. And how true it is that man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life God wants from us!

Think about it. What is this anger going to solve? All it will do is eat away at your soul, and eventually cause you to sin. You may speak angrily to the person you’re upset with—and in turn, they’ll most likely become angry with you. Proverbs, chapter fifteen and verse one says, ‘a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger’. How true this is.

You will speak with anger, and then they will do the same. It will be a neverending cycle of hatred, bitterness, and pain unless both of you can forgive the other.

So, in closing, let me ask you—do you have anyone you’re angry with? That you have unsolved bitterness towards? Think hard before you give a sure answer… and then pray for the strength to forgive that person. It will make you feel so much better, I promise you.

God bless.

~ Theodora Ashcraft

10 comments:

  1. Good post, Renna... Like usual, you've given me something I need to think about. *Hugs* Thank you for this reminder, sister.

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    1. *smiles, hugs back* You're welcome, dear. It's something a lot of people need to think on, I believe.

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  2. Hey there Teddy (Oops, did I just say that? You don't mind do you?)
    Sorry, that just sorta slipped out. Anyway, I can totally relate. Just yesterday, I had a run-in with a belligerent hunter who did more cussing than talking, and no matter how much I apologized or no matter what I said, he kept cussing, angry and trying to get me to react.
    Well, I did, just not in front of him. I sat for the rest of my dove-hunt and just stewed in my mind about the fellow, running over and over in my mind what a jerk he had been, angry at him for being so over-the-top angry. Ironic eh? Only difference is that I didn't cuss, but I suppose I was just as angry as he was.
    Took me quite a while to get over it, in fact, I still don;t know if I am over it. So this post was very relate-able, and I have some repenting and praying to do. Thanks a heap.

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    1. Hey there. :) And aww, no, I don't mind if you call me Teddy. You don't mind if I call you David, do you? *wants to make sure*

      Ah, yeah... those people pop up every so often. They just seem to bent on trying to get other people angry. My mom says that they 'like to figure out what buttons to push'.

      You're very welcome, I'm glad it could be a reminder. And I'll be praying for you too.

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    2. I don't mind one tiny bit - in fact I prefer it. :) David it is.
      I will appreciate that - big time.

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    1. *smiles* I don't see why... but thanks. *hugs back tight*

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  4. Excellent thoughts, Beautiful. Thank you. :) <3

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