This past week I stopped off at a national chain coffee shop for breakfast. It was quiet in the store and though the day was rainy, I was feeling good. After ordering I stood aside waiting on my sandwich and coffee, thinking about the day ahead.
When Suddenly a woman started yelling in my direction. No, at ME.
I was a rude and selfish person because I had jumped ahead of her in the line. Horrified, I apologized immediately. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t realize you were in front of me.”
She replied, ” That’s because you only think of yourself!” Then she left. She reserved a few more parting words for me as she drove away. Words full of anger that I didn’t hear.
I couldn’t argue against that last accusation. I had been thinking of myself though not in the mean, malicious manner she insinuated. Caught up in my own life and day, missing that another person was ahead of me in line.
Two things struck me about this encounter. The first being that I too didn’t react back in anger. Something I would of surely done in the past. For years anger was my companion in life. It feels good to get angry and stay angry. It can feel powerful too. In the end it is highly addicting.
I would of wanted to prove her wrong by shouting her down. Which would of escalated things. But I was calm, not because of any technique or something I’ve read. But because of the Holy Spirit working within me.
I’m a passionate person. Feeling emotions deeply, I am rather empathetic. God made me this way, to care, to feel immensely. While just a few years ago I would tapped into my anger towards this person, I did not.
It takes a lot of energy to be angry and stay angry. Once the high is gone, I was left with the reality of my life at the time.
My anger these days is reserved for injustice, hatred and sex trafficking. God is using my anger in new and more positive ways. A favorite song lyric of mine is “break my heart for what breaks yours.” (Credit Hosanna by Hillsong United).
The second thing that struck me was how much more upset she bacame after I apologized. After I said “I didn’t realize you were there.” Perhaps that felt as if I were saying you don’t matter. Maybe that reopened an old wound for her.
Maybe taking me to task was her way of saying “I matter”. Because as I engaged with her, I didn’t feel as if this were about me at all. That my thoughtless act said more about who she is than anything else.
Perhaps she is trying to understand why it bothered her so much. I know there have been times when my anger baffled myself. I wasn’t willing to dig deeper, below the surface. Because what awaited me there was the scary truth.
Afterwards, I prayed for her. Prayed that she would long for more in life. That the rest of her day would be filled with joy. I prayed for myself, praising God that my reaction was calm and to not look back in anger. That it no longer has such a hold on my life. [Tweet “anger can often be revealing “] Often the person or people it is directedd towards in the moment have nothing to do with the greater issues at hand.
Something I continue to learn day by day. Handling my emotions in a less volatile manner, seeking God in prayer and leaning into those times.