Empowered to not indulge in anger

The pull of anger can seem irresistible at times. But recognizing that we are created by God to express patience, kindness, and wisdom – rather than reactiveness or frustration – dissolves anger and opens the way to resolution.

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When a recent phone call with a family member became fraught with anger toward other family members, I remained calm and peaceful. But there was a time when I might have handled this situation much differently.

In the past I would have gotten angry and “down in the weeds” about who was right or wrong. This time, I prayed instead, asking God how I could help this relative. Gentle, loving answers came that I never would have thought of by myself. I shared one of the ideas, and the phone call ended peacefully, blessing the individual and me.

Anger seems to have the power to shake us up, arguing that it is a way to get people’s attention. But while anger might feel justified and even satisfying, the aftertaste is ultimately bitterness, sadness, and regret.

So, what can we do when we seem stuck in angry thoughts?

I’ve found prayer to be the only way out. If I’ve allowed anger to reside in my thought for a while, it can seem as if it’s just part of who I am. But prayer has the power to transform the way we think about ourselves and others.

We can find our true identity by understanding our relation to God, Truth and Love. As His offspring, we are the expression of Truth and Love, which is evident in peaceful and harmonious thoughts and loving interactions with others. Identifying ourselves with Truth and Love doesn’t mean, however, that our individuality is lost in our oneness with God. Our expression of these qualities is unique and completely spiritual, untouched by material circumstances. Our individuality reflects qualities of God such as patience and generosity and kindness. Recognizing God as the source of everyone’s spiritual individuality brings healing to discordant situations.

At the time when anger seemed to be usurping my individuality, it felt as if I was in a daily struggle with people around me. As I prayed, the first thought that came was, “Don’t indulge in it.” I looked up “indulge” and found this statement in “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896” by Mary Baker Eddy: “Know this: that you cannot overcome the baneful effects of sin on yourself, if you in any way indulge in sin; for, sooner or later, you will fall the victim of your own as well as of others’ sins” (p. 115).

With that in mind, I felt empowered not to indulge in expressing anger toward others. At first, it seemed beyond my ability. But I’ve realized that as I defend my individuality by noticing and removing anger in my own thought, anger is dissolved from my experience – and lifted from others as well. I prayed to see more clearly that anger is not a power; divine Love is the only power and presence, and my expression of love enables me to lift off ugly, angry thoughts.

This lifting off of traits that don’t belong shows compassion for us and others. Transformation of character takes work, but love and patience give us the courage to continue.

Christ Jesus once confronted an angry crowd that wanted to stone a woman for adultery. He was compassionate toward everyone involved – the woman and the crowd – condemning no one. He calmly, prayerfully lifted anger from the situation until only the woman was left, and he gently told her, “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). Jesus’ recognition of everyone’s pure identity as the reflection of God healed sin and dissolved anger.

I’ve found that I can do the same through prayer, asking God to show me each individual as His brilliant expression. This kind of prayer always changes my thinking, sometimes without a word, and other times through gentle words that help in reminding myself and others of what we are as God’s child. In fact, I’ve experienced several incidents like the phone call mentioned above, and more than one individual has experienced freedom from anger and thanked me for the ideas I shared.

When we acknowledge each individuality as sourced in the one God, who is Love, peace is restored and upheld.

Adapted from an article published in the Feb. 21, 2022, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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