So many of us are walking around with anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness lurking within. In fact, a young woman I know who is a counselor told me recently that most of her clients are dealing with anger. Anger is real among us, whether we want to admit it or not, and I believe it’s at the core of many of our mental health problems as a society.
Some of us are angry at people in our families or friend circles, angry at the circumstances of our lives that we wish were different, or just angry because the world and its leaders fall short of our expectations.
There’s a tendency in our culture to cut people off if we’re mad at them versus make amends. I see this in our own family circles. We will go long periods without speaking to a sibling because of some anger issue that we see as righteous anger. Then in friend circles, I see how quickly we can cut people out of our lives over a simple hurt. Why? Because we’re angry - more than we realize.
There’s a real tendency to nourish our anger with bitter ruminating thoughts. When we do that, can we expect healing, as we hear in today’s first reading? Healing within and among the people we love?
Admittedly, I have faced my own anger at times over things I wish were different – especially my heavy crosses that I felt were unfair when I compared my life to those around me whose lives seemed so much easier. Ruminating on those things that made me angry just got me spun up inside. It didn’t lead to peace or healing, and it definitely didn’t change any of my circumstances.
It’s a continual challenge to choose to let go and allow God’s healing to reconcile the conflicts inside, but it’s something that God encourages us to do on this journey of life.
A healthy question to ask yourself is: How am I nourishing my anger? It might be that your thoughts or expectations need to change. It might be that you’re fostering unhealthy habits and it’s not helping your anger. It may be that you need to take that step to reconcile or forgive and you’re holding onto your pride too tightly. It may be needing to embrace the cross God gave you, however much that hurts, because the cross is that much heavier carrying it with a heavy heart.
The choice is this: Nourish your anger and remain in a sea of bitterness, or stop nourishing your anger and let God’s presence start healing you.
“Remember your last days” says the first reading, and perhaps that is further motivation for us to work on our anger and overcome it, knowing that this life is short and God's kingdom is coming soon.