Several months ago, I had a post on anger. I thought it was appropriate to do a follow-up because it's an issue that has been a part of the reactions to the Cathedral's decisions and was the topic of Bobby's message on Sunday.
As I said before, anger is a touchy subject in Christianity. We often assume it's bad. One of the things Bobby said that I appreciated on Sunday was separating the emotion of anger from the action of anger, the latter which tends to fester. I think it's an important distinction because we often confuse the complexities of emotions and our psychologies.
In fact, I realized today that I think, while psychologists often simplify spirituality, Christians often simplify our psychologies. Things aren't just as simple as anger can destroy. Can it? Absolutely. It also serves a very important, good function in our lives.
But where is the line?
That's something I've considered a lot of the last several months while the Cathedral has imploded. I have experienced a lot of anger. One thing Bobby mentioned was holding onto anger. One way we often try not to hold onto anger is by not feeling it. I argue that that is unhealthy and ironically is how we hold onto the anger. By ignoring it, we repress it, and it begins to fester inside of us until more builds up and it finally explodes. In contrast, if we can express it (in healthy ways) as we experience it, we can use the emotion of anger constructively and do not live by it.
So what if we express it and still feel anger? We often assume we are doing something wrong, like we haven't forgiven the other person well enough. That's not necessarily the case.
As wrongs continue, we continue to be angered. In the case of the Cathedral, wrongs were continually being committed (and still are). People were (and are) continuing to be hurt. That justifies continued anger. It wasn't just a one-time event to "get over." It was a continual assault. There was also a sense of betrayal on many levels, which causes even deeper pain and anger, which I believe is completely appropriate. We can deal with that anger by taking action, but most of us could do nothing but sit back and watch it all implode. That does not help the expression of the emotions. Sometimes we truly cannot right a wrong. It is not in our power. We have to find a way to resolve the issue in our psyche, then, sometimes with the help of a professional.
However, I maintain that continued anger is not necessarily bad, again, as long we don't live from it and make all of our decisions from it, as Bobby discussed during the message.
In the next couple of days, I'll also discuss forgiveness, boundaries, and praying for the success of an enemy.