“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” -Ephesians 4:26-27
I was recently reminded of someone’s wise words to me long ago, “be ye angry,” as if it were a commandment, an order. I used to be so good at stuffing my feelings, my friends would call me a flat liner. Even my husband would get cranky about it sometimes, “doesn’t anything bother you??”
Be ye angry!
For those who don’t know, I still rarely get angry, I actually tend to be resigned, and resigned can easily just slide into powerlessness, depression. To this day I actually have to deliberately, consciously, purposely remember to engage in some righteous anger. Righteous anger is healthy, it is an acknowledgement of injustice, wrong doing, a recognition of sin perhaps.
Now of course, if you are using universal hand signals in traffic, tearing up bars, or blowing your cork whenever possible, this will not apply to you. You should probably just meditate on the second half of that wisdom, Be ye angry, “and sin not.”
I however, like many women, tend to internalize anger, to swallow it, to repress it. We can develop all sorts of harmful symptoms when we do this, eating disorders, self harm, passive aggressive behaviors, insomnia, hoarding…. snapping at people we aren’t even angry at. I’ve been really blessed because I’ve always had God to talk to, so my anger has had somewhere to go. He’s listened to me, He’s heard me, and He’s said the same thing to me the Apostle Paul once said, “be ye angry..and sin not.”
Anger can be a really good thing, motivating, energizing, powerful, protective, discerning injustice, naming evil, standing up for what is right. Anger itself is not a bad thing at all, although what gives rise to it and how we express it sometimes can be.
I really appreciate those words in the bible so carefully preserved, “be ye angry..” because they protect the notion of anger being a righteous thing sometimes, a sin free thing. Jesus gets angry a couple of times in the bible and He is sin free, therefore our own anger, expressed appropriately, is also not sinful. It’s necessary, vital, healthy.
There can be a lot of confusion around anger, for both men and women. Men will often externalize their anger, so sometimes venting it in inappropriate ways. When that happens, anger itself tends to get a bum rap. There are some cultural norms that teach women unhealthy things too, as if anger is unfeminine, as if we are crazy if we’re feeling angry. In faith, in churchianity, there can be some unhealthy ideas too, as if Christians must always be filled with forgiveness, endlessly kind, forever turning the other cheek…. doormats. Christians aren’t allowed to ever get angry, right? Wrong.
Jonah once got mad becasue a worm ate a leaf that was providing him shade. I always remember that whenever I worry that my anger may be unjustified or silly. It may well be, but at least I’ve never gotten angry at a worm….
Be ye angry…..It really is a commandment, although one with caveats, one with a caution sign all around it. One thing that actually allows us to “let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you..” is learning healthy ways to express, acknowledge,and resolve our anger.