We Larsons have never been good at anger. Watching “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” the other day, her therapist told her that it was ok for her to be angry, and she refused. And as she did, I felt an echo inside myself. I seldom got angry for the first 40 years of my life. I prided myself on the fact that I had nobody I could call an enemy. And it wasn’t until I began seeing a counselor myself that I learned the importance of anger.
It feels like this world has the opposite problem much of the time. Our culture loves to get angry and does so quickly. Read any public group thread on social media and you’ll see that it quickly devolves into name calling, shouting, and anger. What began as “<insert your political opinion here>” within 5 replies will gather haters, vitriol, and even threats of violence.
Solomon must have seen the same anger in his time, for he begins chapter 15 of his collection of Proverbs with advice on how to avoid the anger spiral of the world: “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” A quiet, thoughtful, gentle answer is like a shield for those who can wield it well. When someone lashes out with wrath, this shield can turn away the blow with little effort. On the other hand, to return harsh words for wrath simply stirs up anger like a ruckus in a lake. The clear water is soon stirred up, cloudy, murky, and hiding any kind of thing.
So the next time someone throws a harsh word, a wrathful tirade, or any kind of anger your way, remember to turn it away with a gentle answer. This won’t show you to be weak but mature in the face of this world’s sinful ways.