The Infiltration of Anger

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.

 

 

48 Responses to The Infiltration of Anger

  1. Rebekah Dorris May 17, 2017 at 5:13 am #

    Whew! What a story! I’m glad your husband was there to teach him how things works in the real world. So many kids just need a real man to look them in the eye, stick out their hand, and say, “STOP.”

    I will pray for that young man.

    And thanks for the post. I needed this.

  2. Judith Robl May 17, 2017 at 5:14 am #

    Father, God, We lift this young man of anger to Your throne. We ask that You put godly people in his path, people who will help him to find You. His heart is already hungry. Help him to see that only You can satisfy that hunger. Give him teachers and mentors who can point him in the right direction. Block the efforts of the enemy to fan the flames of his anger and consume him.

    We ask in Jesus’ most precious name. Amen.

    And Lord, thank You for Your intervention in this episode, for protecting Jim and Don, and for giving Karen the ammunition for this post.

  3. April Cassidy May 17, 2017 at 5:20 am #

    Wow! SOOO heartbreaking – and terrifying.

    Praise God that this had a happy ending. And that your husband was there to protect innocent people.

    I will pray for this young man right now!

  4. Beth Vogt May 17, 2017 at 5:47 am #

    I’m so thankful your husband is okay. Well, I’m thankful no one was hurt.

    You said so many valid and valuable things in this post, Karen. But one stood out to me: Anger is not your ally. Mulling that over today.

    • Karen Ball May 17, 2017 at 9:20 am #

      Actually, Beth, so am I. The irony here–and the clear sign of God’s work in Don’s life–is that Don has struggled all his life with anger and rage. The result of an horrific childhood. But he’s been so focused all these years on releasing those emotions and opening himself to God’s refinement. He still struggles, as do we all with our own particular obstacles to peace, but that God used him in this situation, with this angry young man…that he recognized the same rage he’d experienced himself and knew how to address and deal with it because of that…

      Romans 8:28 is alive and well. As is the God who gave us that promise.

  5. Damon J. Gray May 17, 2017 at 5:50 am #

    I am a whirlwind of emotions after reading that.

    In your application, (bad reviews, negative word from an editor or agent) there seems to be a threshold where I transition from indignant to angry. I’m not certain where that line is, but I think I’m better off not even allowing myself to be indignant. Take the criticism or the rejection and let God do a Romans 8:28 on it. Turn my pain in to something glorious.

    Thank God for the cool head of Don. He handled a very tense situation in exactly the right way.

    Thank you for sharing that frightening moment with us.

    • Karen Ball May 17, 2017 at 9:05 am #

      Oh! This is SO good:
      “…but I think I’m better off not even allowing myself to be indignant. Take the criticism or the rejection and let God do a Romans 8:28 on it. Turn my pain in to something glorious.”

      Thank you.

  6. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser May 17, 2017 at 5:55 am #

    Anger grows from the dark seed of entitlement, in the fetid soil of jealousy. It’s watered by avarice from the hands of those whose profit lies in our fall.

    • Karen Ball May 17, 2017 at 9:08 am #

      Beautiful. Insightful. Thanks, Andrew.

  7. Joey Rudder May 17, 2017 at 6:47 am #

    Wow. I’m definitely lifting up that young man in prayer. Praise God your husband is safe and for how God worked that out! Now that young man, who may have done this another time and not been so fortunate, was arrested (kept safe) and is now being prayed for by you and all who are reading your post! God is so good.

    And as usual, the timing of your post is spot on for me. Anger visited me yesterday, lingered today, sprouted its ugly head nearly an hour ago, and now I’m praying God’s word so I do NOT give the devil a foothold in my life.

    Thank you, Karen. And I’m praising God indeed.

  8. CJ Myerly May 17, 2017 at 7:30 am #

    Praise the Lord your husband is safe. Praying for that young man. It’s incredible the power anger can have in our lives if we let it fester. Thank you for sharing this today. It hit home.

    • Karen Ball May 17, 2017 at 9:12 am #

      “It’s incredible the power anger can have in our lives if we let it fester.”

      Amen, CJ. I love that the Bible says, “Be angry, but in your anger do not sin.” It acknowledges that we feel things, but then reminds us we, through Christ, can control those emotions. In fact, we must.

      And can you imagine what a different world we would have today if people didn’t give in to anger? We need God’s spirit of patience and peace to sweep our world!

      Now look what you did! You got me preaching!

  9. Martha Rogers May 17, 2017 at 7:34 am #

    Karen, so glad Don was there to diffuse the situation. I’ve seen how anger can destroy lives too many times and it grieves my heart. The longer I live, the more amazed I am at the way people are treating each other. Your words ring so true.

    Twenty-six years ago I chose to not be angry with a board of trustees who terminated my contract at the private school where I taught for some infraction later proved to a fabrication of the student and his mother. Instead, I let resentment fester for a year before God showed me through His Word that resentment was as bad as anger. Neither does any good and when I recognized that and got rid of the resentment, God opened doors for me in opportunities I would never have had before.

    I pray for those who have anger issues and for those who have confessed to anger in their comments. May God calm their hearts and emotions and show them the way to true peace in Him. For those like the young man you mention, may God touch them and send someone into their lives to show them the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

    • Karen Ball May 17, 2017 at 9:13 am #

      Wise words, dear Martha. Thank you.

  10. Janet Ann Collins May 17, 2017 at 8:37 am #

    Long ago I learned if you hate someone you’re giving them control over you. And turning the other cheek really does work. I’ve seen it do so several times. You might want to look at http://www.bullies2buddies.com.

  11. Carol Ashby May 17, 2017 at 8:37 am #

    Andrew nailed it. As the mother of a young man who mostly controls his own anger well, I still pray for wise choices for him and those around him.

    Thanks for reminding me that one of the things God calls me to be is the water that puts out a fire before everything burns.

    • Karen Ball May 17, 2017 at 9:16 am #

      “God calls me to be the water that puts out a fire before everything burns.”

      Love that thought, Carol. Thank you.

  12. Melissa Henderson May 17, 2017 at 8:53 am #

    Yes, praying for that young man.

  13. Kit May 17, 2017 at 9:19 am #

    Yes, yes to your call to prayer as the response to anger.
    Yesterday I became incensed after a young man came into our shop, and engaged me in friendly conversation while shoplifting right under my nose. Bitterness took root briefly over a 2.50 item, but more because I felt it as an affront. Then I remembered to invite empathy and pray for this poor guy whose problems appear bigger than mine. As usual, prayer diffused the poison of anger. Maybe prayer works so powerfully because, among other things, it forces us off our thrones of pride.
    Thanks for the reminder! Glad all is well!

    • Karen Ball May 17, 2017 at 9:46 am #

      Oh, Kit. Two great insights:

      “As usual, prayer diffused the poison of anger.”

      and

      “Maybe prayer works so powerfully because, among other things, it forces us off our thrones of pride.”

      Thank you!

  14. Karen Saari May 17, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    I am often troubled by the anger of our young people, it’s heartbreaking. Someone else mentioned entitlement, yes, that’s one reason. There are many more and it can become a soapbox for me and I’ll go on and on, but I won’t 🙂 I will pray. Lately I’ve been learning what a powerful weapon prayer is.

    We seem to resort to it as our last hope instead of our first. That’s backwards.

    I’m so glad no one was hurt. Jim – you’re being prayed for today!

    • Karen Ball May 17, 2017 at 9:48 am #

      I can’t wait to reach eternity and see what was unleashed in this young man’s life by all the prayers going up for him today. 🙂

      And yes, backwards, indeed. Anytime someone says, “Well, at least I can pray for you,” I respond with, “That’s not the least! That’s the most powerful thing you can do!”

  15. Sheri Dean Parmelee May 17, 2017 at 9:59 am #

    Wow, Karen, that is really an incredible story. Thanks for sharing and PTL that Don is okay.

  16. Peggy Booher May 17, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

    Karen,

    Thank God your husband is safe, as well as everyone else. It’s a tremendous testimony to God’s power that your husband realized, dealt with, and is dealing with, his anger issues. He’s taking it under control, not letting it control him.

    Anger, both in myself, and as I see it in others, frightens me. But in reading the Scriptures you gave, I realize it doesn’t have to frighten me. Instead I can determine, with God’s help, to not let it master me. With God, I can change.

  17. Frenchy Dennis May 17, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

    We live in an angry world. I see it everywhere, in things both big and small. I pray daily to be able to show our Lord’s love to those around me rather than anger, which so many times would be so easy. I thank the Lord for protecting your Don. There’s obviously more the Lord wants him to do on this earth. God bless you!

  18. Sandy Nadeau May 17, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

    Oh my goodness, Karen. Thankful Don was able to defuse the situation without anyone being hurt or killed.
    I wish every single person in the US and the world could read this. It’s a powerful story. There’s just too much anger right now. And it seems to just get worse.
    Prayers for the young man and our current society. Father, bring healing to the angry hearts in this world. In Jesus name.

  19. Sharron Cosby May 17, 2017 at 6:43 pm #

    Once again you hit a home run!

  20. andy May 17, 2017 at 6:53 pm #

    far too sensationalized

  21. Pat Lee May 17, 2017 at 9:08 pm #

    Wonderful post, Karen. Praying.

  22. Edward Lane May 17, 2017 at 10:29 pm #

    Really appreciate your use of scriptures in your blogs. Good discusssion of anger.

  23. J S Rogers May 18, 2017 at 3:08 am #

    Glad Don is ok.

  24. Connie Almony May 18, 2017 at 5:48 am #

    One, Praise Jesus your husband is okay!
    Two, Praise Jesus he was there to diffuse the situation!
    Three, Praise Jesus he knew how to handle it!
    Four, Praise Jesus the kid stood down!

    Goodness!

    Praying for you and your husband, the teen, the other man and his pregnant wife. I’m sure the couple is playing that scene over and over again too, comparing the two versions of a world their child could have been born into. Thank God it turned out well.

    Praise Jesus!!!

  25. Glenda May 18, 2017 at 10:22 am #

    Karen, If I were a nail-biter I’d have nothing but nubs!

    What a great reminder to be self-controlled, alert, and prepared for action.

    As well as:

    “Painfully aware how much life can change in a heartbeat.”

    Glad you’re hubby’s unharmed and praying your hearts resumed their standard ticking.

  26. Sharon Cowen May 24, 2017 at 6:05 am #

    I know I’m a little late leaving a comment on this post, Karen. It took awhile to materialize.

    Why does anger infiltrate faster than love?

    Love is more ultimately more powerful, but it’s slower. The amygdala again. Love calls for a reasonable humanity and a thoughtful brain and heart. Anger calls an animal.

  27. Carol Loewen May 25, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

    Thank you, Karen, for a clear reminder of the dangers of letting anger control us. I’m so glad you and your hubby are both safe and reminding us to recognize the value of our time with loved ones. I join you in prayer for God to reach into Dave’s life.

  28. Creston Mapes June 16, 2017 at 5:01 am #

    I need this and the whole world needs this now. Thx Karen.

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