Throughout my childhood and adult years, I allowed myself to be manipulated in many ways by many people. One statement that always brought me into submission to another’s will was "You have anger issues." With that one statement, my world would crumble, and I would become like putty in the manipulator’s hands. Having learned to set boundaries, I haven’t allowed that statement in my life for a long time…until the other day when an anonymous commenter made a similar statement after this post. I briefly felt all those old feelings rush in, and I struggled with whether to reply, address the issue, or remain in silence. But after my friend, George, read the post and comment, he felt led to share his own story. Today, I’m glad I have the opportunity to introduce to you George Vinson:
Iʼve been following A New Song to Sing for a while now, and am always fascinated by the fresh perspectives I read here. I love looking through someone elseʼs "lens." Today you get to look through mine.
When I read the post about relationships, I was once again moved to re-examine my own. And when the subject of anger was raised, I immediately raised my hand from the back of the class! You see, anger and I are old friends. We went to school together, played in the same bands... we even went to the same church. So I am somewhat of an expert in anger.
But Iʼm not here to lecture, or preach and/or pontiﬁcate. I want to tell you a story.
In 1985, I was working at a large church in the eastern area of Birmingham, Alabama. I was 24 and married with an almost one-year-old son. I had been on staff for several years as a musician and audio engineer. Life, as they say, was good.
But I began to notice that all was not well in this church, even beyond the usual church issues. There had been a devastating split... people were leaving, leaders were growing paranoid... NOT a healthy hospital for the lost.
As my still young and naïve eyes looked around, I discovered an environment toxic in the extreme. But rather than leave for safer shores, I determined to stay and ﬁght. Thatʼs when anger entered the picture.
Oh it started as righteous indignation, which is what I deem noble arrogance. But as it grew and festered inside, what little nobility I had was cast into the dungeon.
Indignation became anger which became cynicism which became... see the path here?
To make this long story short, my rage affected me so much that I ended up being ﬁred from that church. In some ways it was a relief, but rather than turn back to the correct path... I followed anger to the bitter end.
Anger led me to places and choices that still haunt me to this very day. It almost destroyed my family. It almost destroyed me.
The sad thing is that the objects of my bitterness and rage never knew. For all I know, they slept like innocent babes, while the cancer that was my anger consumed me.
I became an emotional terrorist.
My dark rage wasnʼt content with my own heart. I lashed out and infected all those around me, especially the ones I loved. It led me to the decisions I mentioned earlier, choices made I would undo. What were they? Doesnʼt matter. The results were simply the fruit of my fractured heart.
At the heart of this was anger. It manifested itself in many ways, but the chief of these was/is pride (another ﬁve-letter word). Too much there for todayʼs homily.
But thank God for the ﬁve-letter words that brought me back from the chasm... from the pit of my own making.
The grace and mercy of God that looked inside me, to my heart of stone...
And began to soften it. Chinks appeared in my armor. Layers of emotional detritus and debris fell away as I gave more and more over to the God of Grace.
Easier said than done, I know full well. But with God... nothing is impossible.
So today... for those of you wrapped in chains of anger, and bitterness, and rage...
Let it go. Swallow pride. Do what it takes to avoid the spiritual suicide I was slowly committing.
You might just ﬁnd Peace (count ʻem... ﬁve letters).
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, conﬁrm, strengthen, and establish you.
(I Peter 5:10 ESV)
George is the founder and director of Project Onefifty, a ministry that shares through music this simple truth: God reveals, redeems and restores. You can read his blog here, "Like" him on Facebook here, follow him on Twitter here, and listen to his music on iTunes here.