My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to
listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not
bring about the righteous life that God desires.
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps
himself under control.
We all have triggers, don't we? It's only human. Some of us by nature are reactive types. It doesn't take much to light us up and send us spinning out into the cosmos in a wicked fury. Others are more naturally reflective and slower to get fired up.
The problem comes when we let that feeling - that anger - take control of our words and actions. It's a concern, because we have never been in a more trigger-rich society than we are now. Because of social media and instant news, we are more exposed than ever to everything happening around us. It's like a lot of technological or medical advances - they happen faster than we can adjust to them and develop appropriate protocols for addressing them.
We step into the river of social media with the best of intentions, never realizing how swift the current is, or how many hazards are rushing through the water, heading for us. Before we know it, we're being sucked under and battered by debris, and we're furious.
Anger is often a secondary emotion, meaning that often the underlying emotion is fear or hurt. Those two emotions - fear and hurt - make us feel vulnerable and weak, so the safer, more powerful emotion to feel is anger. It feels strong and powerful. And it is. It can also be destructive and devastating if it is let loose with no boundaries.
James says our anger doesn't bring about the life of righteousness God desires. Why? Because for one thing, that anger can easily be read as hate. Think about protests you've seen on TV. You may agree with those protesting or not, and that's fine. The problem is, when anger controls us, that fine line between an issue and a person becomes blurred. When that happens, we lose our ability to interact with anyone who disagrees with us, and when that happens, we lose our ability to communicate, and we have lost the battle. All of us.
We've also lost the ability to show the love of God to those who need it, which is all of us.
It's not wrong to talk about our positions on issues, in fact, we need to do it. How can we solve problems if we don't talk to one another? That's the problem, though, isn't it? We don't talk TO one another so much as we talk AT one another. We are very slow to listen with the intent to really hear the heart and story of the other person.
There is a time and a place to discuss hot topics. I'm not sure social media - for many reasons - is that place. It's just a thought, and something I continue to pray about and use scriptures like those above to meditate on.
During this season of Lent, let's commit to a deeper dig on this with God. We want to be part of solutions, not fuel to a fire.
One other word: responding to trolls on social media is just...can I say it here? Stupid. Don't get reeled in. Ignore them and walk - or scroll - away. What is the saying... ah, yes...
Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to
their level and then beat you with experience.
- Mark Twain
It ain't holy writ, but it's pretty smart.
Prayer for the day -
Jesus we know you are a passionate Lord, and you care deeply about the issues that affect us. We also know you are in control of the chaos, and never stop working out your plan for the world. Let that assurance comfort the fear and soothe the hurt that so often leads us to lash out in anger. Give us your passion for people, and show us how to respond in your Name and with love. Forgive us when we see issues instead of people, and when we seek to be heard and understood without offering the same to others. Help us become teachable and give us a humble spirit - one that can acknowledge that we might not always be right. Help us to be a safe space for people, even those who disagree with us, just as you are our safe place. Mostly, let us be filled with compassion and never forget to love. We love you so much.