Anger and Love – Breaking down and building up

A quick thought on anger:
Anger is volatile. Anger is powerful. Anger is disturbing. But anger is not inherently evil.
I’ve heard it said that anger is “love in motion toward a threat against that which it loves” (attribution: Tim Keller, of Redeemer Presbyterian Church). Think of mama bear and baby bear. When baby bear is threatened, mama bear gets angry.
Anger is a useful diagnostic. When you become angry, you can ask yourself what it is that you love. You can then ask yourself if the thing you love is truly under threat. You can further ask yourself whether you are loving that thing more than you ought.
For example, it’s natural to get upset if someone insults you. But if you fall into a violent rage when a stranger throws you an unkind comment, then it shows that you deeply love your image. Is your pride worthy of that much love?
You can talk all you want about what you love, but your anger says more about your love than words ever will.
It’s useful to know that anger and love are connected, because it gives you something to do with your anger. Anger desires to be directed. If anger has nothing to do, it will smolder into resentment and cynicism. Sometimes it’s appropriate to use anger to tear down, break apart, unchain. But sometimes, you can’t do much with anger; the threat is too diffuse, too distant, too intangible. So instead of tearing down the threat, you can channel that emotion into building up what is under threat.
If you can’t use anger to fight back the bully, you can use love to build up the victim.
I’m not saying people should never become angry. That’s foolishness. I firmly believe that you can’t tell people what to feel. That’s not how feelings work. And anger is just as much a part of life as joy, sadness, fear, disgust, and all other emotions. But anger gets easily corrupted. Anger can turn from love protecting against a threat into hatred smashing down a victim.
For each of us, there will be a season to break down, and a season to build up. I hope that all of us would know the season that is set for us.

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