It may not be considered the happiest note to start 2014’s blogging ventures on, but it may save one from eminent death if understood more adequately.  Happy New Year, where undoubtedly we will all be confronted with the emotion of anger. I’ve been pondering anger and its power to kill one’s soul.  If not dealt with, anger can become like an inconspicuous and unassuming friend that quickly lodges in the recesses of the heart.

Admittedly, anger has often perplexed me.  Is it right to feel anger, express it, or is it best to just tuck it away?  I mean really…what is the deal with anger? Being a Christ-follower can throw this whole thing into a convoluted mess.  That’s why I’ve held my thoughts on the topic to conversation with a few friends over the past 6+ months, God, and the ongoing blog in my mind. To that end, I have had these thoughts.

First, as someone who loves Jesus because He first loved me, I have to squarely face the misnomer that there are two types of anger: righteous and unrighteous.  I’ve heard countless sermons on anger from this slant.  However, when I do a word search in Blue Letter Bible for the original language, it does not delineate anger as being either.  That’s what leads me to think, ‘Oh right…how could it if anger is an emotion?’  I’ve come to determine that we dignify the emotion of anger by tossing those words into the conversation.

The word for anger in the Greek is orgizō meaning, ‘to provoke or arouse to anger; to be provoked to anger, be angry, be wroth.’  There is even a hint of ‘flaring nostrils‘ in the Hebrew.  Nowhere in sight are the words righteous or unrighteous.

Second, anger is a normal human emotion.  Jesus is as much human as He is the Son of God.  You may find this entertaining, but it was a revelation to me that emotions are healthy/normal when I had a professor at Montreat College who had us go through our Bible and highlight the emotions of Jesus. Talk about a lot of red ink!  Emotions are normal because we were created imago dei – in the image of the One who emotes, quite frequently and passionately.

Third, the emotion of anger is to be expressed appropriately in the moment (or held for nearby moments of the future when it is safe).

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity

Ephesians 4:26-27, nasb.

Okay, so I’m starting to get the ‘be angry’ part – it’s normal and going to happen. Now I was puzzled by the sin and devil part.  That’s who I’ve been trying to avert all along by not affording myself the space to be angry!  All along I had it backwards and consequently am full of the sin I had been righteously avoiding!

When the Spirit enlightened the eyes of my heart, it went something like this – In Jesus I see Father God.  God is equally blatant about His anger in both the Old and New Testaments. The epiphany for me is that Jesus expresses His anger in the moment every time, thus not giving the devil a place in Him!  He processed anger by getting it out.  He did not stuff it, ignore it, or just ‘let it go and let God.’

It is really okay to be angry.  It’s what we do with it.

The deciding factor as to whether or not the devil enters into the picture is dependent on whether or not we allow ourselves the space to process anger and what evoked it.  If I let the sun go down having done otherwise, then I am opening myself up to the devil, likely meaning that I go from unprocessed anger into judgment and its BFF’s, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness.  Thus, these are the roots that spring into the malignant thoughts, attitudes, and a sundry of soul and relational killers.

I need the grace to embrace the many colors of anger this year instead of doing a myriad of other things.  Learning to appropriately and healthfully identify my emotions in the moment and allow myself to JustBe is actually what frees me from the poison that flows from denial or suppression.  Sounds like a healthier 2014 to me!

Thank you for stopping by…this conversation isn’t over!  Many blessings to you and yours in the abundant days ahead of 2014!