Being angry with people is one of the leading reasons I land myself in Confession. Once, I had been offended by someone deeply, and felt this person owed me more respect and support. I felt this person was disrespecting my children and their needs. And I was angry. I had real anger seeping from my existence. It was that kind of anger that bites at every person within close distance and that isn’t fair to them. Worse, it was the kind of anger that blocks your relationship with God and steals your peace.
I was mad at one person, but was punishing everyone around me. Then my own son called me out on it. It’s pretty humbling to look your teenage boy in the eye and know his accusation of mom being hateful is on point. I apologized. That was when realized I needed to go to Confession, and needed help to get over it.
I would guess this is the kind of anger referred to in Scripture: “Refrain from anger; abandon wrath; do not be provoked; it only brings harm” (Psalm 37:8).
I very simply stated my condition in Confession. “I’m full of anger and I even feel justified.” My wonderful priest acknowledged me with a humble head nod and warm smile. Then he asked me to consider Jesus hanging on the cross. Picture our loving Jesus in so much pain, being mocked, thorns literally poking him in the head, nails in his hands, and through his feet. He, in this terrible suffering, asked God to forgive them for they know not what they do.
My perspective did change just enough and I could feel the grace helping me get out of my anger. In situations like this, I’ve found it’s better to rely more on the fact that Jesus will fill us with grace than in trying to get better on our own strength. Of course, we have a duty to try. But mostly, God just wants us to surrender.
It also was a reminder to offer my sufferings to God in union with Christ’s. And to get over myself a little bit. Further, it was a reminder to pray for the person who was causing my pain. In some mysterious way, that brings grace to forgive.
If we never suffered or were never tempted to be angry, we also wouldn’t have the opportunity to feel the grace and raw love of Jesus. I’m so thankful for the option to exchange anger for grace. I’m so thankful for the sacraments and the love of Jesus.
If you are struggling with anger, I encourage you to encounter God’s healing love for you Confession. Do you have any other tips for exchanging anger for grace?