23 Jun Keeping Your Head
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you but make allowance for their doubting too!”
― Rudyard Kipling
Never in our nation’s history has there been so much animosity and vitriol spewing forth from so many places all at once. Neither the left nor the right sides of America’s political divide are innocent when it comes to chumming the waters with incendiary comments designed to set the opposing camp ablaze. We don’t agree much on anything these days, except this: we are angry!
Anger has its place, even in the Christian life. The Bible does not list anger as a sin. The Apostle Paul warns us, however, to closely guard this emotion by saying “in your anger do not sin,” Ephesians 4:26. The takeaway? Some anger is justified, understandable, and should be expressed. Much of the time our anger with one another, once expressed, can lead to a deeper, more honest relationship, once the tenor of scripture is followed.
But the kind of anger we are all feeling these days often isn’t relationship-based. It is in the world around us. We roll up to a gas pump and have a triple digit fill-up experience. We head over to the grocery store and spend like it’s Thanksgiving week just to get the essentials.
When we get home, we foolishly turn on cable news to hear about angry people taking to the streets over this or that issue. Talking heads seem to be everywhere, delighting in pushing our buttons and making our blood boil. They make us feel angry because government leaders aren’t doing enough, or because we fear they will do too much. There seems to be no escape.
How do we cope with the overwhelming anger all around us? What strategies can we use to deal with the anger we feel before it boils over at work with the teams we’ve built so carefully and care about so much? Or at home, with the ones we love more than anything?
Dear Christian Radio, we cannot control the anger permeating our culture these days, but we can control how we respond to it. Here are a few ways Christian leaders can deal with culture-based anger:
- Stop anger at the source. Go on a news and social media diet for a few weeks, just to detoxify and reset your emotional thermostat. Pay attention to how you feel. It may sound silly to some, but media-induced anxiety is real and in addition to making us feel angry, it can produce anxiety and even depression.
- Focus on what you can control, not on what you cannot. You can’t really do much about gas and food prices, but you can put your energy into wasting less fuel and food. Try sharing rides or sharing meals. Change the plans, get creative. Make it a game to see how you can save money even as inflation continues to ravage our economy.
- Cultivate gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for. You won’t have to look very far for people who have it a lot worse than you do. My friend whose husband became a quadriplegic at 34 challenged herself to make a list of 1,000 things she was thankful for as she dealt with how the accident impacted her family. Thankfulness is powerful because it changes our perspective and helps us focus on God’s love and provision.
- Find a safe way to vent. Write a letter to the editor, or an elected official or just journal your thoughts to get them out of your system. Find a good friend who will listen as you let off a little steam. One of the best ways to vent is prayer. Literally take what’s bothering you directly to the Lord. David did it in oh so many psalms, and just reading through them can help you grapple with many of life’s biggest disappointments.
- Listen well. James writes that we should all be “quick to listen and slow to speak.” You aren’t the only one battling anger these days, and sometimes listening to others will help you process what you are dealing with. Great leaders are good listeners.
Running counter to today’s culture of anger pays a huge dividend. When non-believers around you see you keeping your head when others are losing theirs, and when they see you not joining in the fray and being full of grace and kindness in a world gone mad, you will be a beacon pointing them straight to Jesus.
VP of Creative Services, PAR
Positive Alternative Radio