Maybe part of the reason I’m writing (almost) every day for 365 days is because I know in that time, not every day will be a perfect one. Some days things don’t go your way. Some days people hurt you or treat you unfairly. Some days you know you’re the one who messed up but there’s no way to fix it.
Some days are like today.
The burdens laid on me today, got increasingly more difficult to bear as the day went on. By the time I got ready for bed, I knew I’d experienced righteous anger more than once, and it seemed as though the entire day was just too much to handle.
And yet, as I sat with my gratitude journal, I realized I was, not quite grateful for the mean person and bad situations I was given, but I was incredibly grateful for the way I’d handled them. I was grateful for the strength and confidence and calm with which I’d handled them. I was grateful for the lessons I’d learned and for the knowledge that I was better at the end of the day than I’d been at the beginning. I knew I could not have said that without the trials I’d been dealt.
Righteous anger is different from other kinds of anger because it is based on being the victim of valid injustice. Righteous anger is not a back-up-against-the-wall or an I-will-lash-out-at-you-because-I-know-you-will-lash-out-at-me action. It is an emotion not based strictly on emotion. Rather, righteous anger is based on knowledge of right and wrong and the observance and/or experience of right being trampled on for wrong.
Even those experiencing righteous anger sometimes act in unrighteous ways. We see this in destruction of Marriages and families or in gossiping and even in the burning down of cities. Turning righteous anger into unholy action eliminates the benefit of righteousness. Lashing out in the face of injustice feels good in the moment. It is a temporary high but the letdown after leaves one feeling drained and bitter.
The alternative takes a lot of practice. I do not believe it is ever perfected to the point that one is absolutely sure she will never fall back into the resorting to emotional out lashing. The alternatives are so in line with the principles of Live, Not Ordinary because they seem to go against every instinct we have and against much of the advice we are given.
When faced with righteous anger you have three basic choices. The first and most common go-to is to lash out. This tends to back the other party into the corner so he feels the need to lash out too. Needless to say, this emotion-based response is highly unproductive and can be quite damaging. The second response is to sit down with the person, listen to his side with an open mind and try to find common ground, a compromise, or, if morality is concerned, gently but firmly lead him to God’s point of view. Notice I did not say the individual’s point of view. The best way to handle righteous anger when sitting with the offending party is to take oneself out of the issue and let the Lord handle it.
Neither of these methods work when dealing with an abuser though. Instead, the third method is best. In this case, biting one’s tongue is often best. This avoids being drawn into arguments that will ruminate in your head for hours or days making you feel bad about yourself. It avoids catching children and other innocent parties in the crossfire. Contrary to popular belief, not speaking your mind, increases self-discipline which increases confidence when you use this technique as self-discipline rather than as self-beratement.
Choosing to bite one’s tongue and offer the righteous anger to God rather than offering it to the other person, is not at all about weakness or being a doormat. It’s about wisely pursuing arguments you can sway and win for the Lord and trusting Him with results of those you cannot. It is about seeing and living for the long term rather than the moment. It is about holding it all in your heart as My Mary did when presenting our newborn Lord to Simeon in the temple.
My Mary is pure strength, pure goodness, pure self-discipline. There is nothing weak nor overly emotional about her. She, who had the greatest reason ever to lash out in righteousness, instead gives us the ultimate model of humility and grace. She may have had reason to lash out in righteousness but she also had the greatest cause for not lashing out. That cause is to teach the world to trust in the Lord. That cause is to bring Christ to the world and allow Him to do His job. That cause is to allow for the salvation of souls.
You may feel your cause is not quite as lofty. You would be right. None of us is as magnificent as the Blessed Mother, but each of us is called to do the same things: teach the world we trust in the Lord, therefore He is trustworthy, bring Christ’s Love to the world and allow Him to open and close doors we cannot, and to allow for the salvation of souls.
It is not our responsibility to force those things on anyone, but to simply deliver them in the most humble and grace-filled way possible. The rest is up to God.
When we approach bad situations, bad people, and our own bad thoughts in this way, we miss the crazy emotional high that comes from lashing out, but we also miss the destructive bitterness and lows that we blind ourselves to when they happen to us but that are always certain to come after.
If you want to live differently from everyone else, if you want to find Peace, you must choose to Live, Not Ordinary. Choose humility, grace, and tongue biting over speaking your mind more often than not.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I speak when I should not and fail to speak with humility and grace when I should. Fill me with the Wisdom, Courage, and Love of the Holy Spirit. Help me practice self-discipline so that I may never block doors you want opened or open wounds you want healed. Amen
Gratitude Journal – June 15, 2023
Thank You Lord for…
- My morning run.
- Making it to Mass on time.
- R letting me come to work 15 minutes late so I could go to Mass and pray for C and his friends and for my students taking their tests this week.
- K’s help getting ready for the test
- K’s casual reassurances.
- Catching some errors.
- Leaving semi on time.
- A short nap. lol
- Finding out the ceremony was an hour after I thought it would be!
- Chatting with A, B, and C and others.
- The smile I got when I realized I could write who I chatted with as A, B, and C – sometimes it’s the little things!
- Changing into warm and causal clothes.
- Having the boys tonight.
- Dinner with Meema and four of my guys.
- A sleepover on the couches with C 🙂