Anger and Unreasonable Patience

A few years ago, I was talking with a friend about a time that I got angry. She said “Wow, Joel, I could never imagine you angry.”

I was puzzled and somewhat taken aback by her comment. I know that I am generally a very calm and cheery person. Yet I don’t want to give the impression that nothing ever upsets me. I am human, and I get angry, sometimes at rather trivial things (like crumbs on the kitchen countertop).

Still, I can’t help but wonder if my even-headed temperament is my true emotional state, or a carefully calibrated attempt to control an uncontrollable inner life. I think for a long time I have not given myself freedom to feel certain feelings because they were too painful. In so doing, I may have forgotten what I really feel and what I tell myself I should feel. Yet it is a quiet tragedy to forget the timbre of one’s emotions. I am grateful to be learning how to recognize true emotion.

Lastly, anger can be good. To paraphrase the early church father John Chrysostom: He who is angry without cause sins. He who is not angry when there is cause sins. For unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices.

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