The One Hundred Thirty-Seven Day of 2023

Gentle Reader,

What if God doesn’t want you to be an angry person?

Anger in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just an emotion. A response to a person or a situation, and there are times when anger is the appropriate response. You should feel something when your boundaries are violated, when another takes advantage of you, or when injustice rears its ugly head.

However, the reality is that there isn’t a “what if” here. I don’t believe God would have embrace the identity of “angry person.” I don’t believe that God wants anger to be the thing that drives us.

I’m thinking about this today for two reasons. The first comes in the form of a story. Really, a confession.

I hate flying. Loathe everything about it. I’m afraid of heights and I’m claustrophobic, so being trapped in an aluminum tube that should not be able to sail through the air is not my cup of tea, as they say. That said, I would rather be in an airplane than be in an airport. The crowds of people, the security lines, the constant changing of gates and take-off or landing times. I feel tension in my chest just writing that sentence.

I lost my temper in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport a couple of weeks ago. The set-up of that place…it’s inefficient, to say the least. The process of coming through customs makes no sense. It was hot and humid. I was tired. What I wanted to do was sit down on the cold floor and cry because I felt so overwhelmed. Such a step would have required vulnerability. I am not good at being vulnerable. So I redirected that feeling and allowed it to come out in anger. There was no yelling or throwing things. That’s not my style. There was a lot of judgmental words said quietly through gritted teeth.

I am so far from proud of how I behaved. As soon as the hot wave receded, shame came crashing in. I had no right to walk around with the attitude I had. No right to think that people are stupid. No right to say, “Would you just all keep walking?!” loud enough to feel superior but not loud enough for anyone to actually hear. I’m not impressed with myself. There’s no justification. The hundreds of people all around me were either just trying to do their jobs or trying to get home themselves. There was no point in my losing control. I didn’t honor God in those moments. I didn’t love people in those moments. I was wrong, and I am sorry for it.

The second reason I’m thinking about anger today: politics.

North Idaho has been in the national news lately for awful reasons. Last summer a number of people belonging to Patriot Front were arrested and investigated for scheming to start a riot. Our community college is facing loss of accreditation, which means not only the potential loss of local education for students who are not ready or wanting to leave the area (as I was 20 years ago) but also a potential disastrous hit on the local economy. The state does not fully fund public K-12 education, and so the school districts have to ask for money via levy to make up the budgetary shortfall every few years; the initial levy was rejected in March and though the second attempt was passed yesterday, there is debate over whether it was right to have a second vote (it is legal to do so). The library system for which I worked for seventeen years is being attacked for “putting pornography into kid’s hands,” a thing that does not happen because the average library clerk does not have a nefarious agenda. Besides that, it is up to parents to keep an eye on what materials their children are checking out, not the library clerks. But those realities did not sink in deeply and two library board trustees were ousted by a duo who pledges to “solve” a problem that doesn’t exist.

Everyone is an enemy to someone.

Everyone has an insult to hurl.

I’ve lived in North Idaho since I was two. I was born just across the state line in Washington. This is my home. My community. My people. I know the roads and the woods and the valleys and the prairies and the river and the lake. This is a beautiful part of the world.

The people who live here are beautiful, too.

Another confession: it was hard for me to write that. I am dismayed by some of the choices the people in my community are making. By the fire they are breathing and the lies they have bought into. And often, in Jesus’ name.

But I don’t get to think they aren’t beautiful.

I don’t get to launch out on a righteous crusade and assume I have the backing of Almighty God.

I do get to see others as God sees them. Beloved and beautiful and valuable.

I do get to take a breath and remember that I am just as flawed and unable to see all of the pieces of the larger picture as anyone else.

No, God doesn’t want us to be angry people, and especially not the kind of angry people who type out exhaustive insults on social media comment threads and then sing praises to God on Sunday. It doesn’t work like that. We can’t continue doing that.

Have thoughts. Have ideas. Have opinions. Grow, learn, read, discuss, debate.

Don’t do it angry.

Do it with humility, ever-seeking the wisdom of God.


Image Courtesy of Malicki M Beser