When it is good, anger is a passion for justice, motivated by love of others….
Anger turns vicious, however, when it fights for its own cause, not for justice, and when it fights dirty.
(Glittering Vices, p. 122)
Those with the virtue of gentleness have mastered their anger, rather than being mastered by it…
[Gentleness] responds from a heart that acknowledges and trusts the mysterious combination
of justice and mercy that is God’s way of putting things right.
(Glittering Vices, p. 137)
Questions for Reflection
- When has anger been a helpful force in your life? When has anger gotten out of control or been a hindrance in your life?
- How often do you get angry? What are you really angry about and why?
– Do you typically get as angry about an injustice done to others as you do about a personal insult to yourself?
– Does your image of a just universe mean that things have to go “my way” and that you will personally
take it upon yourself to set them right if they don’t?
– How would our angry habits change if we focused more on God’s justice and his control than our own claims and our ability to secure them against all threats?
Practices to Resist Anger and Cultivate Gentleness
- Ground Yourself in Good News
– Psalm 103:1-9
– Matthew 11:28-30
– Ephesians 4:25-5:2
- Take a “Time-Out”
– Distance yourself from the situation: take some deep breaths, take a walk.
– What did I get angry about and why? Was my response in proportion to the offense or did I blow it up further?
– Are my expectations realistic – about what I deserve, what I need, what others deserve, and what others need?
– Is my anger/wrath a defensive cover-up for something else?
– How can I stop replaying the incident, my hurt feelings and resentments, my desire for payback,
and instead let them go and move on to something more life-giving?
- Laugh at Yourself
A sense of humor is the opposite of wrath’s reaction, because the one who can laugh at himself has enough distance from what he wants to be able to deflate his own claims and see them as comically excessive. (Glittering Vices, p. 136)
Honor Your Body
- Get adequate rest, both physical and mental.
- Find healthy ways to release stress, tension, frustration and anger: listen to calming music, take a walk, exercise, meditate/pray, spend time with life-giving people (not those who will just help you nurse your resentments)