You know…sometimes…even though I know it’s wrong…I just want to be mad for a little while. Simmer. Anybody with me? I’m not always ready to be done and over with it. I want to hang onto it. Last night this feisty redhead’s fire was lit and before I blasted back with both barrels I decided to bite my tongue and walk away. In hot pursuit I was cornered but I demanded my space…not without repeat attempts to hash it out before I was ready. I still wasn’t ready but knew that I should not let the sun go down in my anger but instead deal with it in the appropriate way…fight “fair”. What the heck does that mean anyway? Ugh!
What I discovered in my stewing was that I wasn’t simmering down…in fact I was brewing up my argument as my blood began to boil. I did need to take some time to figure out exactly how I was feeling about what was said…and how it was said… and why it set me off. After that however I was getting ready to just blow the other person away with my undisputable point of view though gearing up for the inevitable debate. What I have always claimed is that I don’t want to…in my stubborn and fiery fury…say something that will hurt…say something I don’t mean…something I will regret. But last night that wasn’t what I was doing. I was calculating my retaliation. Interesting. That can’t be fighting fair!
Sometimes I feel like I have built-in dynamite hardwired into my body and when the right white hot spark hits it just explodes! I don’t like conflict…mostly because in my stubborn nature it’s so hard for me to let it go…but man alive it seems to find me sometimes. And…after all…if there is no conflict…there is no intimacy. Can you tell who I was so upset with yet? Oh I do love him so…and the reason I don’t like to address things right now is because I can’t stay mad at him because he is so sincere in his apologies…and most of the time he’s right about my flaws being that he knows me better than anyone else on the planet…and sometimes I want to just stay mad… but most of the time I want to avoid it. It’s so much easier to bury the anger…isn’t it? The problem with that though is that it always seems to surface again. Or the anger festers leads to bitterness…then resentment…an infectious cancer that eats away at our own souls though we expect the other person to need chemotherapy in their hearts. If anger is always a second emotion taking some time to figure out why we are angry is important. What was the first emotion that led to it? But do we have to hash it out right now? Do we have to lay it all out there? Is that how we learn from our mistakes? Is that how we learn we are wrong?
I always thought…you know the little legalist follow-the-rules-and-just-get-along-all-the-time Jen…that anger was just plain wrong…that it was sinful making the terms “fighting fair”…or “a good fight”…onxymorons in my mind. The truth is that anger in and of itself isn’t sinful…it’s what we do with it that makes all the difference. It can very easily lead to sin. Jesus got angry. When I was little that bothered me. It bothered me that my perfect Jesus went into the temple and turned over the tables in Matthew 21 because I associated anger and sin together as one. But they are not the same thing. He was angry with sin…a righteous anger. What is that anyway? Anger without sin. Jesus never sinned and He is our perfect example. So we too can be angry if we do not sin. Okay…so what does that look like? I’m still learning folks. It’s a lot for this “good girl” to take.
It’s always interesting to me that when I am upset with another person the Lord turns the mirror on my own heart and I see things in me that I don’t like to admit. Our argument last night was about…though not at all my intent…how I sometimes come across in regards to a specific aspect of my story…something I am passionate about because of how God has so miraculously healed my heart and helps me each and everyday with my illness. What he said was completely true but the way he said it was harsh and blunt and not at all sensitive to my deep scars associated with the subject. Ironically the exact same thing he was “constructively criticizing” me about was the exact same thing that sent me off to load my ammunition and fire back. Something we both clearly need to work on. Speaking the truth…but in love.
I am still confused sometimes about the whole “fighting fair” thing. I know I must manage my anger carefully and not sin. I know that others will hurt me and even if I don’t intend to, sometimes I hurt others…not necessarily with what I say…but without even reazlizing it…how I say it. I now know that I can take a little time to settle down to figure out what the first emotion that led to anger was…but not stew and calculate in order to manipulate a victory. I need to focus on myself…not merely blame the other person. I need to address the issues and not bury them or let the sun go down in my fury…even if I really don’t like it. I have to realize that when things are falling apart all around us wouldn’t Satan love it if we turned on one another? When those attacks creep up I have to remember the Truth and stand firm on it and not let him get a hold of me. Anger presents an open space in my heart…I can choose to fill it with God or the enemy. I have to admit when I am wrong and ask for forgiveness. I must also forgive as I have been forgiven…even if that doesn’t always mean reconciliation. Some things can’t be resolved in our relationships with others. For that I turn to Psalm 4 and trust that giving the hurt to God is the answer…for it is between He and I…even if I have to do it over and over again. Obedience doesn’t always make sense…until we do it and find out it really is the best way. God sure knows what He’s doing, doesn’t He? He knows we’re going to be angry sometimes and He gives us the tools to manage it. The perfectionist in me wants to master the rules of fighting fair…but I simply just have to start somewhere.