Saturday, October 23, 2010

On Anger

I've never thought of myself as an angry person. And really, I'm not. Anger is a very rare, fleeting emotion with me. If someone does something mean or unkind to me, I'm more likely to feel sad or kind of annoyed or just shrug it off totally. I let things float past me easily. Some people live with their emotions close to the surface. They anger easily, but it also leaves them quickly. For me, I think hold my emotions a bit deeper. Most stuff won't make it down far enough to affect me majorly, but when it does, it stays. For a long time.

Just the other day I was lying in bed in that wonderful drowsy state before I actually succumb to sleep, letting my mind wander as it pleased. In those times, my mind usually flits from thoughts about my day to plans for the future to books or movies to memories of the past or who knows what else. For some reason, it stopped on an angry memory. I was at once awake. Although it had happened almost two years ago, I was almost as angry thinking about the memory as I had been during the actual incident.

Really, it was such a small thing, and I doubt anyone but me even gave it a second thought. I used to be the Food Forum moderator for my college's website. Although forums are notorious for becoming heated, I figured not much contraversy could be stirred up over food. I mean, probably the worst would be whether carbonated beverages should be called soda, pop, or Coke (it's pop, by the way). Anyway, one day I started a thread asking about people's favorite restaurants. I don't even remember all that I put down, but I'm pretty sure Chili's was on there (for their Chicken Crispers) and possibly Fazzoli's (breadsticks). When I went back later to see who responded, there were several different restaurants posted, but also an interesting comment on my orignal post. This person had written that not everyone had Daddy's credit card so they can't eat out whenever they wanted to.

Such a small thing, but it made me so pissed. I remember all sorts of indignant thoughts bubbling up. My family almost never went out to eat as a kid, except maybe the occasional 99 cent fast-food burgers on road trips. On my own at college (at that point), I went out much more--once every couple of months. I've never owned a credit card. Besides that, I had never asked my parents for money while in college. If I didn't have much money, I would deal. And this person had the nerve to insinuate that I was a spoiled rich girl who manipulated my parents into giving me money instead of earning my own.

While lying in bed the other night, I stopped my silent tirade to really analyze it. Why was I angry? What was it about that comment that upset me so much? I think that all comes down to my pride in my independence. Ever since I turned eighteen, I've thought of myself as an adult in some sense. When someone else would talk about getting their parents to take them shopping for clothes, I would look down at my thrift store/bargain outfits and smile quietly to myself. I may not have been as fashionable as them, but at least my clothes were mine. Whenever faculty would make jokes about college kids calling home for money, I would smugly think that that would never be me. And, at least for the first three years of college, it wasn't (breaking my wrists kind of changed that, as well as moving to another country with no money).

But really, that's a silly attitude to have and a stupid reason to get angry. That's the independent attitude that they always say Americans are blessed/cursed with. I'm not saying it's always bad. God does tell us to work with our own hands and support ourselves. None of us are supposed to be lazy. And hey, an independent attitude gets things done sometimes. On the other hand, the Christian life is definitely the opposite of self-reliance.

I've been learning a lot about self-reliance over the past couple years. I still like parts of it. I think it's good not to rely on other people too much. Too often have I seen others who base their decisions, self-esteem and happiness on others. Yeah, that fails. At the same time, our reliance shouldn't really be on ourselves; it should be in God. But I digress. I've already written a whole post on lessons in dependence (typed during the time of my broken wrists, of course). Basically, I've learned that I shouldn't get upset when someone calls me dependent. As a Christian, I should be dependent!

Then there's my other anger incidents. Again, they don't happen often. Most of them stem from someone being a jerk to others. I can still boil when I think how one of my high school teachers treated some of us. My freshman year of college I got majorly pissed at some JBU students who were jeering the other team at a basketball game. They were going way beyond spirited ribbing; they were cruelly taunting individual players, especially targeting their looks. Oh, I was angry. I never forgot the students who did it, and it affected how I thought about them for the rest of college. In those cases, I don't think I was wrong to get angry. They were obviously out of line. What was wrong was holding onto it so long. That isn't righteous anger; that's a grudge.

So how do I change? With God's help, only. Starting a couple years ago, I began praying whenever old, mouldering angry thoughts arise. It really has helped. Sure, sometime things get me angry still, but I don't hold onto it as much. I can let it go.

Still, don't call a basketball player with corn-rows a tire-head in front of me. Just don't. You sound stupid anyway.


  1. Even Jesus got angry. He got angry at the right things. And then he dealt with it. I'm not suggesting you run around at a baseball game overturning refreshment tables and stuff, but still. Don't beat yourself up for being angry at the right things.

  2. True, true. I just don't like how long I hold onto it. I suppose there's a balance to be found.


I like comments just as much as fresh guacamole and chips! Well, maybe not quite that much...