If you know me now, you would never be able to picture me losing my temper. It just does not happen. You may see me a little irritated or annoyed, but you likely have never seen me angry. My wife has only seen me lose my cool less than a handful of times in over twenty years together. People get quite irritated with me that I am not super emotional and angry in certain situations. Yet, I remain a steady ship in the roughest of seas.
That was not always the case. Up until I was about 14, I had what was commonly referred to as an Irish temper. Like many boys, I did not have the coolest of heads. It was not unheard of for me to mouth off to my parents. Yet, I was not prone to fits of rage. Although there were more than a few times I would get angry enough to get into a physical altercation, I never started an actual fight. It is surprising looking back on it. There was one day, however, which I am far from proud of, that could have taken my life down a very different path.
We were playing soccer in the back yard. Being boys, we played a little rough. I was already angry at Donny for some stuff he said. Then he slide tackles me. It was not lightly, but quite roughly. It was at this time I saw red. Something snapped in me, and I chased him. As he ran, I picked up a rock and hurled it towards him. It barely missed his head. We are talking centimeters, not inches, and it most certainly would have seriously injured him. That was the exact moment I realized I needed to get control of myself. I was going to do something I could not take back.
From that day, I learned to walk away from those situations. Despite controlling my physical reaction, I still held on to grudges and anger. I did not let it show, but it was there. It took some time to work through it. Then I learned about Jesus and started following Him. Many verses in the Bible speak about anger, but two of them have burned into me.
James 1:19-20 (NIV) says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
I was always quick to listen. Listening to other people’s problems helped distract me from my own. I have honed that skill to be a lot healthier now. It was the slow to anger part that was my challenge. I wanted to see the righteousness in my life that God desires. Over time, as I matured and longed to be more like Jesus and less like me, this just became a part of who I am. It does not mean I have no anger; I only understand how to handle it.
Ephesians 4:26 (NIV) adds, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”
This is a practice in all areas of my life. I try so hard to give my anger to the Lord. I want Him to be the comfort He promises to be. I can honestly say that Jamie and I do not go to bed angry at each other. Has it happened? It may have happened once or twice. When it has, we did not have restful evenings. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. It will destroy relationships. It will quickly build walls that can take years to tear down. It will impact areas of your life you never could conceive possible. It can come to the point where you are the one intentionally hurting those around you. It happens both physically and mentally, and you have no idea how you got there.