Monday, December 06, 2010

Angry People

This evening I was in a store where the business was momentarily slow so that the check out girls were a bit chatty. (I call them girls, not disrespectfully but because to me nearly everyone seems like a young kid anymore. I received my second invitation to become a member AARP this week.)

The one young lady made a comment that seemed to be out of nowhere, seeming to have nothing to do with anything. She did not know what it meant either. Then the two young ladies explained that their thinking was a bit jumbled from having been yelled at by the last two customers in a row.

One was angry because he did not know that the store charged late fees. Previously the store did not charge late fees and made a big deal about this. When they changed the rules, no big deal was made and this customer did not notice.

The other customer was angry because his rental involved the process of placing a temporary charge on his credit card and then immediately crediting the amount back to the card, as a security measure to be sure that the account was valid. Apparently this also is a new policy change that was not announced.

The Rules are NOT supposed to change.

This is what people expect, ordinarily. What is required of people is supposed to remain constant.

This is the mindset that we all have. This is especially true when consequences accompany the rules. This is even more powerfully expected when we suffer those consequences unexpectedly.

But then, we never like the consequences and we often become angry when facing consequences to breaking the rules. The only time that we want the rules to change, is when we face consequences and would like to be excused and would like to have those consequences remitted.

Nevertheless, people expect the rules to remain constant. This is the nature of rules. This is essential for good order in society. This is necessary for people to know how they are to function in society.

In our day and in our society the rules have become unstable. This is especially true regarding banking and financing. The banks and financiers and governments keep changing the rules, and not in the people’s favor.

People are becoming more and more angry as they experience the unfairness of those who are manipulating the rules. People are feeling more and more helpless and defenseless. People are justified in their anger.

Sadly, those who instigate this anger are not the ones to whom the anger is expressed. The poor cashier or bank teller or stock clerk or waitress or receptionist or other service person, the one who has no say over how the rules apply, such a person is usually the one who bears the heat of the anger. Sometimes it is the person at the intersection or turning lane. Other times it is a spouse or son or daughter or other family member.

So what is the answer?

In this post I only intend to give answer to what each of us needs so as to be kept safe from our anger turning to sin. This, by the way, is an enormous undertaking.

So what is our protection from having our anger turn to sin? God’s peace that flows from knowing His forgiveness is our protection. When we become angry, God has provided His peace to rule our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. As we remember the enormity of our own sinfulness and our own debt to God, we also remember the vastness of His love and forgiveness. As we remember His love and forgiveness to us personally, the wrongdoing that we endure from others is shown to be infinitesimal by contrast. When we remember God’s mercy to us personally, we remember that those with whom we are angry are just like us, sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. This then snuffs out the fire that burns within us, for how can we be angry over someone who is just like us and acts just like us? How can we remain angry with someone when we remember how desperately that we need for God not to let His anger loose upon us?

It simply is not possible to remain angry when we honestly evaluate our need for God’s forgiveness personally, and recall His promise to us in our Baptism and in His gracious call to the Supper of forgiveness. When this is what we have foremost in our thoughts, our anger is left behind as we come running to our gracious God and Savior who stands ready to lift our sin from us and give us His peace once again.

Yes, I can tell you from personal experience, much personal experience, God’s peace truly does have this much power.


DRG said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing that.
I hope to recall your words the next time I get angry.

A choleric reader...

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

DRG, you are welcome and thank you for your acknowledgment. It is encouraging to hear from time to time that someone benefits from my little Gospel snippets. So, thank you.