Welcome, Unwelcomed Stranger
A prose poem by Julia Winston
A painless pain crept up my neck and gripped my throat. My muscles slowly tensed without my permission. Stuck in my mind and trapped in my body, I experienced the clouding of my judgement. I saw my reason going further and further into the distance. I reached for it, but was yanked back into my trap by this unknown familiar force. Honestly, I liked it just as much as I feared it. The thumping in my chest, the beating between my ears, the furrow of my brow, the tightness of my mouth, all conspired together to tell me it was here. It had come unannounced, but not unprovoked. Who was this welcomed unwelcome stranger? Anger.
Have you ever had an encounter that made you rip-roaring mad, AFTER the fact? That’s exactly how it happened to me. It crept up on me and before I knew it…BAM!!! I was angry and seething. During the encounter, anger was not present, but after the encounter, anger showed up in full force.
I was speaking to a marketing professional, hoping to get some advice. The conversation wasn’t bad. He wasn’t offensive, rude, or trying to sell me something. Yet after the conversation was over, I found myself angry. I will spare the details of what exactly made me angry.
Funny how scripture comes to mind when you least want it to. Anger and I had just signed up for the three legged race and was ready to go, when “Be angry but sin not” popped in my head. I wanted to ignore the verse, but I couldn’t. I sat in my anger for a minute. I allowed myself to feel it. It was powerful, it was bold, it was impatient, and it demanded action.
How am I supposed to be angry and not sin? What does that mean?
“Be ye angry, and sin not.” KJV
“When angry, do not sin.” AMP
“Don’t get so angry that you sin.” CEV
“In your anger do not sin.” NIV
“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry–but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.”
In every version or translation of Ephesians 4:26 it is clear that anger is not a sin. The actions that come as a result of anger, we are cautioned, could be sinful.
How to be angry, but not sin:
1. Don’t deny that you are angry.
Denying you feel angry only makes you more likely to do something foolish. If you believe that anger is bad, you will shame and blame yourself for feeling the emotion. Be honest and allow yourself to be angry.
2. Don’t do or say the things you are dying to do or say right now.
Anger has a way of compelling you to act. It wants you to send that email, text, or make that phone call. It wants you to give him or her a piece of your mind, RIGHT NOW. Acting rash will appease anger for the short term but will cause long term damage. In fact, according to one ABCnews report, venting your anger in an aggressive way isn’t healthy.
3. Ask for help.
I don’t mean that you need professional anger management help, although a counselor or life coach can help you through chronic anger issues. In this situation, I would recommend for you to ask a friend to give you another point of view. Anger sees with tunnel vision, and in anger, you are sometimes unable to see other perspectives on your own. Help from others will let you see the big picture in a better light.
Anger isn’t bad, nor it is wrong. Anger can even be helpful if used properly.