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Why I Hate Being Angry and Deserve a Catholic Facepalm Award

I'm a pretty cheerful person. If I believed in horoscopes, I'd say that I was a typical Sagittarius...optimistic and jovial. For the most part, I don't get angry that much...and if I do, it's quick. It typically comes and goes. I'm only human, so I do get angry every once in a while. However, I'm typically pretty calm and reasonable even if I'm not in a cheerful mood. I've been like this since I was a kid. My mom used to remark how I was a little saint when I was a kid (teenager years are another story). As a kid, I would never cry or complain. The worst I did was tell everyone to leave me alone if they bothered me. There are a few relatives and friends that will still recount how I used to be like a porcelain adorable little girl who could have given Mary Ingalls a run for her money. (That's a Little House on the Prairie reference....I hope I am not showing my age here...)

For the first time in a long time, I got angry on Tuesday.

"Angry" as in "Throw-the-tantrum-of-a-5-year-old Angry"
The worst part about this Tuesday, was that my anger got the best of me and that I started looking at everyone and everything around me through my anger. I somehow stopped looking at them as I usually attempt to look at them...through God's eyes. The jokester on the train that would have made me laugh any other day, suddenly became an annoying jerk. The woman with the cute baby in the stroller, suddenly turned into just another annoyance blocking my path. Everyone turned into an impediment during my commute home. Everyone became too stupid, too slow, too hurried, too annoying, too insert problem here. In my angry mind, everyone had turned against me to ensure that my commute would be the longest commute of all time. In truth, however, I was the one who had turned against everyone else. I was the one who ended up ruining the commute.

Though I was too angry at the time to actively acknowledge it or do anything about it, I knew that I was the problem with the entire picture. However, I was too angry to accept that my attitude needed to change...and I had to try really hard to soften my hardened heart and calm anger. You see, when I get angry, I simply refuse to stop being angry even though I hate every ounce of my anger. In truth, I had no right to be angry to begin with. It really all started with a series of small, seemingly insignificant events that piled up into one of the worst commute days I've had to date. I did not have a particular person that I was angry at because there were more than a few people that had bothered me in some way throughout the commute. Yet, by the time my sister picked me up from the train station, I was tired, annoyed, hungry (probably a big factor here), and cross...and there was nothing she could do to cheer me up.

I don't like anger. I don't like being angry, even if I have a good reason to be angry. You see, anger is a very sneaky emotion. It leads to bad decisions and, in my case, an unreasonably cruel outlook on life and other people in general. In my case, anger leads to more self-pity than it does empathy. It makes me want to push people out of the way instead of help them. Anger makes me ignore God's call to be a better person and listen to temptation a lot more often than I should. Anger makes me feel sorry for myself and temporarily severs my relationship with God. When I am angry, I am unable to listen to God. I am unable to follow His words...I am unable to love as I am called to love. As a result, I find myself better able to ignore or defy God...and better able to listen to temptation.

When I get as angry as I did this Tuesday, I really have to push myself to stop being angry. I am normally able to do this by finding some sort of distraction...but there is only so much you can do to distract yourself when you're waiting on a street corner for someone to pick you up. Believe me when I say that I had NOTHING to keep me I had to find other means to calm down. This past Tuesday, I did something that I never really did in my younger years...that I am trying to do more frequently...I turned to God. However, this past Tuesday I did it wrong.

Turning to God in a moment of anger has, in the past year or so, prevented me from hurting others with my words as well as my fists (which is great because I couldn't fight my way out of a paper bag). I have held my tongue quite a few times in the past few months...and it has prevented me from saying things that would hurt others...things I would eventually regret. It has worked wonders for me in the past year or so and has taught me to be more patient, more loving, and more merciful. This past year, I have sought to overcome my anger for the sake of others rather than my own sake...and, as a result, I have become become a better person. I am not the best person I can be quite yet...but I am better than what I have been.

This Tuesday, however, I turned to God...with the wrong intentions in my heart. I asked God to help me with my anger for selfish reasons...not because I wanted to love my neighbor. Essentially, I made myself out to be a victim in order to make myself out to be some sort of martyr. I wanted pity that I did not deserve. Even worse, I angrily offered my "suffering" at the hands of these "stupid people" to God. Yes, my angry self had the audacity to tell God that these people were stupid...that's how angry I was. I tried to talk it all out with God by explaining my situation from a very selfish, biased viewpoint. My conversation with God was all "ME, ME, ME." Not once did I try to listen to God. Not once did I try to see past my own wants. Not once did I sincerely ask Him for forgiveness. Not once did I sympathize with all those other people I was sore about.

Instead, I found myself simply complaining to God...accusing these other people and blaming all of my problems on them. God understood my heart and He had the wisdom to make me see that I was in the wrong. As a result, my anger did not resolve itself until I saw that I was not the victim  I wanted to be. My anger only dissipated after I made the terrible realization that I had been the source of it all...the anger, the crankiness, the unwarranted accusations. The experience was humbling and showed me just how much I have to work on my patience, my humility, my love for my fellow man... my ability to forgive my fellow man...and my ability to forgive myself. I realized this Tuesday, that I can absolutely stink at being the person that God wants me to be.
Congratulations "Angry Tuesday Barbara" on winning the Catholic Facepalm Award....
By the end of this experience, I realized that I had been the cause of my own "suffering" and that this "suffering" was nothing more than my being a brat. God knew that I had hardened my heart that day...and He did not let me off easily. I cannot help but be thankful for this, as much as it bruised my ego and bothered my pride. It was certainly a well-deserved blow to my pride because it helped me see just how much work I need, how easy it is to slip into temptation, and how dangerous anger can be....regardless of how much I have grown in my faith. It helped show me that I am still susceptible to the same flaws that I see in other people. I may not be as hot-headed as some other people out there...but I have the potential for it if I don't check myself.  I may think I am calm and optimistic....but I am still capable of the same intense and unnecessary anger that I see in other people at times. This Tuesday helped show me how I cannot let my guard down and how I should not allow myself to be swayed by such an ugly emotion. I should, instead, try harder to show my fellow man the same love and mercy that God has for His children...the love and mercy that I hope to deserve one day.

Pax Vobiscum

1 comment:

  1. The first step after the fall is to get up, brush off an re-analyze (and apologize!) if necessary.

    I had a similar experience this past week: my sister and I traveled for 24 hours, went to bed at our hostel, only to be woken up around 2 a.m. by 8 British boys staying in the same room with us. Around 4 a.m., I yelled at them to shut up. They sort of did. The next day I felt horrible and apologized to them, only to have them tell me not to apologize and that they were being "wankers" and that all English people are rude, etc. Perhaps over-doing it, but the sentiment was made and our stay in the same room was much more pleasant.

    Great post!!