Yesterday, anger almost took my husband from me.
Don was coming out of the grocery store when he realized two young men were screaming at each other just to the side of the doors. One, let’s call him Jim, whose pregnant wife was sitting in their car, yelled at the other, now known as Dave, “Why did you point a gun at me??”
My husband set his bags down and looked at Jim. “Did you really see a gun?”
“Yeah. He stuck it in the back of his pants after he pointed it at me!”
Don, who is armed and has trained with area police and SWAT officers at the gun range for his work in armed security, told Jim to call 911. The second Jim started to dial his phone, Dave reached behind him.
Don’s training kicked in.
He put one hand on his duty weapon, and the other he held out in front of him in a “Stop!’ motion. He fixed his gaze on Dave’s eyes. “If you pull that gun, I will shoot you.”
Dave swore, then turned and hurried away.
That, my friends, is what anger will do for you. I’m not talking about righteous anger, anger at the things that anger God. This is just plain ol’, everyday, are-you-kidding-me anger.
Whether you’re a young man responding to some affront, or a writer reacting to a rotten review—especially those that are undeserved, like that nitwit who gave you a one-star review because they didn’t like the typeface? Really??—anger has a way of starting small. You know, little jabs at your heart when you feel you’ve been insulted. Or, okay, when you have been insulted. Disregarded. Whatever irks you.
From there, anger feeds. Each new offense, each careless word or comment, each negative interaction is a tasty morsel that strengthens anger, helps it grow and spead. Infiltrate. Anger makes everything about the almighty me. It inflates intent and import until we’re grinding teeth, clenching fists, even considering throwing a punch, figurative or otherwise. Anger infects relationships and tells us we deserve better. Who does that editor think he is, telling me my book isn’t good enough? If that agent had any brains at all she’d see my book is the best thing out there! Way better than the garbage on the shelves!
And on and on anger goes, building, festering, until it reaches it’s goal: rage. And then we, like that young man at the grocery store, find ourselves acting in ways that devastate not just us, but those around us. Rage took that young man to a place where he put his life, and the lives of others—including my Don—at risk. And likewise, anger will take you and put your gift, your credibility, and your service to God at risk.
Don’t let that happen, friends. Don’t give anger even a tiny foothold. Not in your writing journey. Not in your everyday life. Not in your heart. Because this kind of anger, this all-too human emotion that poisons, is not your friend. Not your ally. It’s the enemy’s tool to derail you. It’s writers’ obstacle #7, and the only way to stop it in its tracks is with the powerful words of truth, such as:
Psalm 4:4– Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord.
Psalm 37:7-8– Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm.
Proverbs 15:13-15, 18– A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit. A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash. For the despondent, every day brings trouble for the happy heart, life is a continual feast…A hot-tempered person starts fights a cool-tempered person stops them.
Matthew 5:21-22– “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
Colossians 3:8-10–But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.
1 Timothy 2:8–In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.
And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story!
Police caught the young man brandishing the weapon, though he’d tossed the weapon somewhere. Said it was just an air pistol. Police said if that was true, he was an idiot for pulling it on someone. He might well have been killed for doing such a stupid thing.
He is sixteen years old.
When Don came home, we held each other, painfully aware of how much life can change in a heartbeat. And we had a far better understanding of why young men are killed when they don’t listen to authority, such as police, and freeze. When you have a split-second to decide life-and-death, you can’t do much beyond focus and shoot.
We’ve been praying for the young man, that God will get hold of his heart and mind. If you think of it today, please lift a prayer for this young man as well. To be that angry at sixteen…he needs God’s touch.