"Anger" is One Letter Away from "Danger"

July 6, 2020


A FaceBook posting this week asked, “How does wearing a face mask make you feel? Does it make you feel safe, or does it make you feel controlled?” My wife, Becky, says, "Neither, it makes me feel annoyed!"

Speaking of being annoyed, did you know there’s a difference between anger and aggravation? Read on.

A little girl asked her father to explain the difference between anger and aggravation. So, he picked up the phone, dialed a number, allowed his daughter to listen in, and when the other person answered, he said, “Hello, is Melvin there?” Back came the answer. “No, there is no one here named Melvin. Why don’t you look up numbers before you dial them?”

The father waited a moment, then dialed the number. "Hello, is Melvin there?” The man yelled, “I just told you there is no Melvin here! Don’t call this number again!” then slammed down the receiver. The father looked at his daughter and said, “There was anger. Now, let me show you aggravation.”

He redialed the number and when a voice roared back, "Hello!" her father calmly said, "Hi. I'm Melvin, have there been any calls for me?"

The short story above captures how I feel about the current second COVID outbreak going in our city and country. COVID is like the father who dialed the phone, "Hello, is Phoenix there?" Then COVID keeps calling, "Is Phoenix there?" When we think we have COVID under control and get going again, COVID calls back and asks if there are any calls for it. You can put the name of your city in this phone conversation too.

COVID type of problems often creates a lose-lose for everyone. Our governor and government think shutting down 'non-essential' businesses again is the best and safest solution for the current COVID outbreak. But those business owners want to stay open because they don't have the cash reserves to withstand another shutdown. Plus, they have invested considerable money into complying with the safety standards required by the government to re-open for business after the first outbreak. They also fear losing key employees. I can see the perspectives of both sides on this issue. It’s like the irresistible force and the immovable object opposing each other and going nowhere. It’s frustrating. It’s agitating. It pits us against each other. It gets us angry and on edge.

The first mention of anger in the Scripture is when Cain got so angry with his brother Abel that he murdered him. Ecclesiastes 7:9: "Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger rests in the hearts of fools." Someone once said that anger is a wind that blows out the lamp of the mind. It's easy in today's 'short-fuse' world to get angry. We see things that need changing, and we want them changed now! The problem is anger not transformed is anger transferred. Anger starts in our inside, and if not dealt with, moves to our outside to others.

Here’s some wisdom. Don't fight every battle that catches your attention. Why? Because we can't fight every battle. Why? We aren't designed for that. Don't become a person of war. It's one thing to be in war. It's another thing for war to be in you - people who fight dragons too long become dragons themselves.

When war is inside of you, the end starts justifying the means. You lose perspective. Discernment vanishes. You blame, demonize, and even break the law. Ultimately, you usually end up losing what you are fighting for, becoming more hurt or angry in the process. Anger is one letter away from danger. Destructive anger not only kills others, but it also kills you.

Jesus chose his battles carefully and wisely. Laurie Beth Jones, in her book, Teach Your Team to Fish, talks about that. "Imagine how Jesus felt when He saw a Roman soldier hit a Jew or watched people spit on prostitutes, or walked past crucified people in Jerusalem. This horror was a regular occurrence. Yet, there is no record of Jesus leading any protest marches or overthrowing Roman tyranny or halting others' execution. Why not? Didn't He care? Of course, He cared. But Jesus was wise enough to choose His battles, to save His energy for the one battle He could win, the one that could change history…not because He picked up His sword, but because He laid down His life."

Laurie says that balance, poise, knowing how and where to apply pressure while maintaining grace, character, and dignity, will ultimately get you closer, in the long run, to where you want to be.

Here are some questions to ask ourselves. What battles am I currently fighting? Should I be fighting them? What is my real business or calling? Am I battling to help the community or am I battling because of some unresolved issue in my life? Is there a better way to resolve my anger, frustration, aggravation, or dissatisfaction than what I am currently doing?

In conclusion, the Bible says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; don't let the sun go down on your anger, giving evil an opportunity." Learn how to manage your anger constructively, or your anger will control you destructively, making things worse rather than better. This changes everything.

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com