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All That Anger

All that Anger: Was it about payback or progress?

I heard yesterday in church that selfishness was at the root of every character flaw. As I sat there, processing those words, it struck me as such a truth. Recovery afforded me the opportunity to find and expose my character flaws. It also gives me the opportunity to work on them as God rebuilds my character from the inside out. But what about all that anger? Was that really all about the injustice’s in my life? Or was all that anger just a way for me to receive retribution.

Honestly, my anger during my addiction to alcohol was all about the payback. People needed punished and all the wrongs that had been done to me needed to be revenged. It was never about the injustice itself, or my delusion of it. It was just about poor pitiful me. And the more my alcoholism progressed the angrier I got.

One of the irony’s about addiction is that you think you are being completely selfless when in reality, everything you do is selfish. Alcoholism manipulates your code of character to where everything and everyone revolves around you and your need, or excuse, to drink. But there were things I had the right to be angry about. So what then? The problem was I held on to it. I let it poison me. All that anger led me to rationalize that all my drinking was justified.

….it was anger completely meant to serve me.

So, I was angry at my Dad for leaving my family and I did everything I could to make him pay for years. I was justified because of all that anger. I was angry at my ex-wife for the way I was treated and keeping my child from me. And I had every right to feel that anger. I was angry at myself, for being such a deadbeat and a drunk. All that anger turned into more and more poison. Being so angry, and so selfish, almost killed me.

But it is ok to get angry. We just cannot hold on to it like I was. I had a death grip on it and recovery showed me how to let that go. The more I held on to it, the more I could explain away my separation from God, my kids, my family. But the more I sought payback the more punishment was dealt back to me. My anger was not righteous anger, it was anger completely meant to serve me.

So how can we turn all that pent up rage, all that anger, into something that can be the fuel for progress and for good. The first thing we have to understand is that I can be angry. Just don’t go to bed angry, don’t hold on to it. It is good for us to be angry but we cannot respond out of that emotion. Be angry, then let it go, and look to move forward in a positive manner. Stop worrying about what you are not getting out of the situation and instead ask yourself, “what can I do to make it better?”.

…it will only divide until we are conquered by it.

Here is how to tell if all that anger is selfish or it is just and virtuous. Does it lead you to want revenge, the payback, retribution or does it lead you to compassion? Does it want to punish or does it want to take what is broken and make it whole? Answer that honestly, and it gives you what that angry feeling actually is. Poison or an opportunity for progress.

Anger that pushes us to bring dead things back to life is righteous anger. I can’t think of any better time in my history on this planet for us to understand this very thing. We can be angry. But if it does not lead us to compassion and generosity then it will only continue to divide until we are conquered by it.

For example with my father. The more I punished him for leaving the family the better I thought I would feel. Payback, right? But I was wrong. Not only did it hurt him, it took my Dad away from me. I let that happen because I was so angry. The revenge I sought just gradually ate away at my heart. It was killing him and it was killing me.

….most of my defects were all rooted in selfishness.

But once I had some recovery time under my belt I was learning that most of my defects were all rooted in selfishness. Even the anger towards my father. It really had been all about me and my need to make him pay for a life that I ruined all by myself. My anger let me rationalize the divorce of my parents as an excuse for why I had become an alcoholic. It had been all about me and that had to change. My anger towards my father began to transform into compassion.

I started to feel the need to take what was broken and make it whole. I had compassion on him, my mother, and the entire situation that had happened when I was just 12 years old. So I called him up and asked him for forgiveness. My selfish anger of my past would have never allowed that, after all he was the one that had always needed forgiving. But now it was different. It was no longer about what I needed, but rather what I could do to make it better.

That phone call was one of the most healing moments in my life. A simple phone call full of compassion. For 30 years, I had treated my father with no mercy and honor. That call opened a pathway between us that I had long closed up. It brought about a generosity of love and grace that has helped us find a way back to developing a wonderful father-son relationship.

All that anger can lead us to how we can make things better.

So what do we do with all that anger…….there is an abundance going around in our world, just open up Facebook or turn on the television if you have any doubts.

  1. First allow yourself the grace to be angry. It is ok to feel that anger, Even Jesus felt anger. Just don’t hold on to it, it will become a poison. Instead let it go, root out the selfishness and ask yourself this one question. How can I make it better?
  2. You then will be moved from payback to progress. Waves of compassion begin to erase the anger. You will create the ability to empathize and desire a way to help.
  3. Lastly, you will be moved to action. Don’t stop at this step. Become generous with what you have that can make a positive difference. Whatever that is, however that looks, just be generous. That will make that anger righteous and not about payback or punishment.

There is a lot to be angry about right now and justifiably so. But is it going to be all about you and what you aren’t getting? Or is it going to be about what you can do to make it better? That choice is yours. And your choice determines whether we stay in the payback cycle or move into progress and healing.

all we are doing is killing ourselves……

My Pastor, Scott French, said this Sunday,…that generosity kills selfishness. When we are more about serving others we do not have time to serve ourselves. That stayed with me, because I know that is what I have been called to do, and so have you, But if my anger is leading me to selfishness then it will just divide and conquer my soul. I don’t want that for me and I don’t want that for my world. My hope is that my anger is moved to compassion followed up with generosity. We can bring what is broken back to life, but if our anger is just about us, all we are doing is killing ourselves, slowly but surely.

Catch Scott French’s message on “Righteous Anger” here

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