I’ve got an angry streak. There’s just no denying it. I’ve tried and tried to overcome it, I’ve prayed and prayed for God to lift it from me. But I never have gotten over it.
The best I was ever able to do was to try and control my behavior that resulted from my being angry. Unfortunately, that method of “control” has a huge flaw; I wasn’t doing anything about the anger.
I suppose it could be said that modifying my behavior was a bit like dumping oatmeal in your car’s radiator when it has a hole in it. Sure, the oatmeal might keep the car from overheating for a little while. But the real cause of the problem — that there is a gaping hole that the coolant is pouring out of — remains. Then you have to keep adding more and more oatmeal, exacerbating the problem; until, finally, the engine blows. Then, of course, you blame the oatmeal company.
So in order to deal with the radiator problem, you’ve got to fix the hole. With my anger issues, I needed to deal with the anger directly rather than pouring oatmeal on it.
With the radiator, the solution is simple. You take it to a repair shop. The repair shop is LOVE.
Okay, stay with me here.
The solution to overcoming my own anger was also very simple. There was something that would happen when I became angry. In many ways, it’s the same thing that happens to Bruce Banner when he becomes angry. No, I don’t turn into a mega-powerful green beast… although I would often go on a rampage just the same. But I would lose control, turn mad with rage, as if someone else were pulling my strings. I would also feel nothing. Physically or emotionally.
I’ve broken my hand. Gotten cuts to the bone. Bruised my shins. Broken my foot. Sprained my finger. Oh, wait, that last one was from playing poker. That’s another story. Anyway, these all happened when I was angry, and I never felt the pain of those injuries. Well, not until well after I had calmed down any way.
Emotionally, I felt only one thing: rage.
That rage was the “hole in my radiator.” Modifying my behavior is the “oatmeal” quick fix that doesn’t last. What I needed to do was find a repair shop.
Now, you might think that I’m saying that I need to find someone to love me. NO! I was already surrounded by people that love me. And the worst part of everything? I blamed those people for making me angry. I loved those people — or at least I always said I did and felt that I did — so how could I possibly blame them for a problem that was mine? Well, that’s the stupid thing about it all. It’s human nature to never take the blame for anything. I was angry because other people were “making” me angry. It was never true of course, but that’s what my twisted mind would think.
My anger affected those people deeply. It caused them to do things they wouldn’t normally do. Things that offended me. And when they would do those things, I would get angry and blame them. Then I would try to forgive them for something that, in reality, was 99% my fault because I drove them to it. The other 1% comes from their decision to do the offending action. As long as it wasn’t forced, there is that 1%, but I hold nearly all the responsibility because they wouldn’t have been driven to make such a decision if it weren’t for what I was doing.
So you see? I blamed others for my actions when it was really me that was to blame for their actions.
It wasn’t until I went to the repair shop… scratch that. It wasn’t until a good friend forced me to go to the repair shop that I was finally able to fix the problem. What’s the going hourly rate these days for radiator repair? Because it took my friend several months to set me straight. Unfortunately, he had tried to get me to take my radiator to a repair shop many times, but I didn’t listen until the car engine finally blew.
Okay. So let’s remember what I felt emotionally during my outbursts. Only one emotion, right? There was no room for anything else. That’s what happens when you become overwhelmed with one emotion; that emotion becomes the powering force in your life.
There is one other thing. Those offenses against me? Even though they were my fault, I had to find a way to forgive those people of those offenses, otherwise the offenses would continue to drive my anger. How do I forgive an offense that causes me so much anger?
So remember in the movie Dune when Muad’Dib comes to a sudden realization and says to himself, “The worm IS the spice. The spice IS the worm.”
Well, love is the radiator repair shop. The radiator repair shop IS love! LOVE!
In order to forgive, and I mean TRULY forgive someone who has offended, I must love them more than I am angry about the offense!
My friend put it oh so simply. “If you truly love them, you will forgive them.”
I truly loved these people more than anyone could imagine. Unfortunately, I wasn’t letting all of it out. When I finally did, the love became the dominant emotion in my life and completely overshadowed the anger! And it was at that very instant I was able to unconditionally forgive.
Yes, it really was that simple. I know you don’t believe me. The old me never would have believed it either. But it’s true. Love truly does conquer all! Don’t believe it? Then love those who have offended you. No, I mean REALLY love them! You’ll see.
But I’m not done. The only reason I was offended was because I offended so many myself. To those people, I must make penance and beg forgiveness. It won’t be easy because they have known the old me for so long, it will take time for them to get to know the new me and, with all the hope I can muster, pray that they will have the strength to someday forgive me and trust me again.
Always remember the lesson that I have learned! If you are blaming someone else for how you feel, love them. Then you’ll realize that it’s you who are making yourself feel that way and it is THEIR forgiveness you must ask for.