Therefore, putting away falsehood, let everyone speak the truth with the neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let go down on our anger. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
I, naively and incorrectly it turns out, thought that later in life with children raised, income more or less stable, and job issues resolved by virtue or retirement; I’d mellow out and remain relatively calm, cool, and collected in all circumstances.
Hope springs eternal. So, it turns out, do weeds. One recent afternoon I again felt the old annoying surges of anger pulsing through me as a result of an unproductive encounter with a situation that refused to go my way. I was too wired to focus on anything else.
Enter the weeds. They’d grown in abundance everywhere thanks to the right combination of warmth and water over the past few weeks. I attacked one small plant in the flower bed and learned it was connected underground to a much larger one a few feet away. Determined that I would get the entire plant out of the flower bed for good, I started digging. I dug and pulled for what turned out to be a couple of hours.
By the end of that crusade to rid the flower bed of the invader I observed several things. First, I was no longer angry. I was sore, filthy dirty, thirsty, and tired; but not a trace of anger remained. Next, I learned that ultimately all things really are interconnected. I rid the flower bed of the weed, but there was no way to rip out the entire root system. Over the years it had grown too deep and spread too far to be able to get to the ends of it. Anger is like that. I resolved my immediate surge of anger. I suspect I will experience another wave of anger in the future when confronted with frustration and seemingly impossible situations.
Alas, the calm I want to experience eludes me; the anger I wish to avoid finds me.
Anger is a cover emotion. Under the cover lurk fear, disappointment, and hurtful reminders of ancient unresolved battles. Often these stem from emotional entanglements with the core people who shape our very being – parents, siblings, spouses, children, or intimate friends.
All God’s children get angry. Some choose to stay that way—quick to lash out at others. They use anger as excuse to maim and destroy others. Some pretend they have no anger. Then anger turns inward causing a legion of mental and physical health issues. Health and maturity demand we acknowledge our anger and find healthy ways to manage it. Then we can choose a response that provides less tension and more tenderness toward our own fragile well-being as well as whomever else may play a part in the current drama.
When I see the weed-free flower bed I feel pride in a rough task completed. I am cheered by flowers flourishing where weeds once grew. I no longer remember the incident that birthed the anger which led to the weed-attacking marathon. I know, I know, oh how I know, the weeds will be back. As will the anger.
But for the moment, I feel calm and the flowers look terrific. It turns out weeds do have a purpose in the overall scheme of things. I’m in search for some profound purpose for mosquitoes. I’m open for suggestions.