Click on the quote below to read the article...

(Written while Dave was in jail in February and March, 2001.)

This topic really deserves more thorough coverage than I am giving it in this article. The problem is that I don't have any detailed or new solutions. I am more or less forced to re-state things that I have already said, in the hope that wording it differently may help.

The issue I am talking about is the difference between resolving anger, and either expressing it or burying it. Expressing is better than burying, because it gets it out in the open. But if you insist on staying emotional rather than rational, the more you express anger, the more you'll want to express it, just because it feels so good, and not because it solves anything. You will hurt people and probably bring more criticism on yourself, which will make you feel even more persecuted. This will actually increase the problem and increase your bitterness.

I've written elsewhere about bitterness and about grievances, and I don't want to repeat too much of that here. Grievances (i.e. sessions involving other counsellors from the community in resolving your differences) are one of the best answers to unresolved anger, but even they won't accomplish anything if you go into them with the idea that they are stacked against you, and if you are closed to the possibility that the problem may be with you, rather than with anyone else.

To truly resolve disagreements, both sides need to appreciate the fact that personal bias will make us see our own strengths and the other person's weaknesses as being at least a little bit bigger than they are in real life.

Considering that the other person has the same bias toward your weaknesses and toward their own strengths, you will have to lower your expectations about how totally resolved the issue will ever become, if the matter is to ever be resolved at all. They are never going to be as convinced of your rightness as you would like, and you are going to have to make serious adjustments to your own perceptions about how wrong they are. If the community pushes too hard for a total and instant change of personality in someone who is out of the spirit, chances are that the best we will get is an insincere imitation of such a turn around. And if the person who is out of the spirit waits until every perceived misunderstanding and injustice is resolved before truly repenting of his or her wrong attitudes, then change will never come that way either.

It is also important for each of us to remember that our past record, although forgiven, will probably not be forgotten. Because of that, we have to accept responsibility even for some of the injustices that we encounter against ourselves.

If, for example, we've been divisive in the past, then people would be stupid not to suspect us of trying to cause trouble in the present, whenever we do and say things that could possibly be interpreted that way. We may have changed, but we cannot expect others to immediately accept that.

Unless we make a lot of effort to practise the Golden rule, to put ourselves in the other person's shoes, to use our imagination to picture how God sees it all, we will never properly resolve anger.

Jesus told stories and made statements which should remind us to get our grievances into perspective... into perspective with our overall sinfulness (e.g. some of the things you've done wrong and NOT been punished for), into perspective with the good qualities of our critics, and into perspective with God's role in it all. Unless we get these perspectives sorted out, we are going to end up totally derailed spiritually... deluded with our own righteousness, and full of unresolved anger (i.e. bitterness) against everyone else.

As I indicated at the start, I don't feel confident about what I have written in this article actually solving your anger in itself. It is only a tiny part of the solution. By far, what is needed more than anything is your own willingness to let go of the hatred that has been eating at your soul, and threatening to destroy your relationship with anyone who dares to speak the truth about your own sinfulness. It's up to you.

(See also Forgiveness, From Bitter to Better, and Bitterness.)

Register or log in to take the quiz for this article

Pin It
Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account