I’m about to give a talk at a venue with three blocks of seating. The centre block is full. The left-hand smaller block is empty but in the right-hand smaller block only one lady sat with her teenage daughter.
It’s much easier for me, when giving a talk, to have an audience concentrated in one block of seating so I don’t have to keep panning my eyes to the right just for two people. Very gently, I explained this to the lady and asked her if she would be so kind as to sit in the centre block.
She exploded in rage at me. I was taken aback, completely unprepared for the torrent of abuse which followed. I cannot remember what I said, but I remained calm, walked away and gave my talk.
At the end of the talk, the same lady came to see me. I braced myself for further abuse. “I’m sorry about that but my son’s just left home”. The sorry was helpful but I was still no wiser on the son part. Thankfully she explained. “He’s gone to join the Army and I didn’t want him to go, he was always telling me what to do so when you came up to tell me what to do it just reminded me of him and I had to give you a piece of my mind”.
This lady was very angry, but she was not angry at me. She was angry at her son. What I did was remind her of that, so she fired all her fury at me.
This is the fourth face of anger and I am labeling it déjà vu It’s a “I’ve been here before feeling”. Something or someone has deeply wounded or angered you in the past. Something in the present connects with and reminds you of this old anger and the ingredients combine to create a present-day explosion.
You’ll hear it in comments like, “You’re just like my mother!” or “All men are the same”, which could be translated, “You’re just like my father” or “My former husband was just like that”.
Our focus is work so it may play out in “My previous boss was just as bad”.
Sometimes a person gripped by anger is not even aware of the historic trigger. Kudos to the woman at the talk who knew I reminded her of her son.
Here is a bold statement for you; stress management, anger management and life management are all the same. This déjà vu anger exists because the original anger persists. You have kept that record of a wrong, memory of a wound, list of grievances in your soul so that the present event or person can be connected with that archive of anger to create a toxic release of poisonous emotion.
There are many parts of biblical teaching which are hard to follow but here are two which must be among the toughest.
“Do not let the sun go down on your anger” and “Love keeps no record of wrongs”. Both written by a fiery Jew called Saul and both written to fiery non-Jews in Ephesus and Corinth.
If, however, using the power of the Spirit of God himself, you can learn to absorb these words into your soul they will find your old anger and dissolve it in a solution of love.
If you’re currently living these words then you are not storing up your anger archive for the déjà vu moments to find their fuel.
Most of us live with a measure of success, getting it right sometimes and wrong at others. For those times there are other solutions on the way (in later editions).
In the meantime, we bet our lives that God himself treats us the way these words describe, keeping no record of wrongs and after sundown new mercies arrive each morning.
Work well today,
© Geoff Shattock June 2019
26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
1 Corinthians 13:5
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
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