I’ve been angry for a long time. Angry about the way the world is going, about politics, about how certain things have unfolded in life. Angry about sexism, racism, poverty, you name it. It’s all I took in. What group is angry at another, what unjust policy just passed, who is sitting back and doing nothing about it. It ate at me, withered me down to pure bitterness.
I’d go up in arms at the drop of a hat as the simmering anger in me boiled. I sought out arguments with those I loved so I could drive home a point, only to drive them further away. I became cynical, angry, hostile.
Luckily those people had tremendous grace for me and didn’t actually flee my presence. They’d listen, maybe agree or counter my argument, and then gently change the subject.
I cringed thinking back on those moments. I did not want to be remembered as a cynical and angry person. I didn’t want my bitterness to continue to eat away at my joy, my peace.
While reading a book I highly recommend to everyone, Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey, I was encouraged to let myself be more than angry. I could move forward in my anger with gentleness.
I believe there is a time and place for anger. I believe it stirs our hearts to act against evil and to defend those who are being mistreated—sometimes that “someone” is even ourselves. Yet our response can’t just be anger.
Ephesians 2:14 says this about Jesus: “For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.” This verse is originally about Jews and Gentiles (non-Jewish people) being brought together to inherit the Kingdom of God together. What was once two very separated groups, He brought together and made one group.
What this verse tells me is that Jesus was not about picking sides, but bringing the peace and unity of the Kingdom. If Jesus showed up today He would not be picking a political party, but pointing people in the direction of God.
So I had to ask myself, how do I let go of my anger, move forward in gentleness and peace, and reflect Jesus’ character?
For this, I look to His interactions with the Pharisees. He did not rip into every one that disagreed or challenged Him—He asked them challenging questions, but did not get sucked into heated debates. They either accepted His truth or didn’t (spoiler alert: they normally didn’t).
I also look to how we protected the woman who was going to be stoned for adultery. I look at the way He held out His hands for Thomas despite his doubt. And I see how He forgave Peter after his three denials. Jesus had every right to be angry–or at least indifferent–with these people. Yet rather than harsh words He gave them protection, understanding, and encouragement. He was absolutely brimming with mercy and love, even at people’s very worst moments.
Whether or not you believe Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world, there is no denying He changed the world and inspired millions. And He did it without raising His hand to a single person, without promoting violence, or forcing His political agenda on anyone.
He changed the world through His character, through gentleness and peace. He moved through His short life with love in His heart and met people where they were. And if gentleness, peace, and love were good enough for Jesus, then they are good enough for me.
“A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” Proverbs 15:1