Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I grew up in a family that yelled.  Some of us yelled more or less than others, but there was yelling.  Some of us were more or less explosive in our anger, but there was anger.  My father was the most frequently angry member of the family, and probably the one whose anger affected the rest of us most, but for all of us, anger was allowed, and even expected.  It wasn't always the most pleasant home environment, but to my knowledge, none of us ever thought that anger was a bad thing, or - more importantly - that any member of our family loved us any less just because they yelled or were angry at us.

All of this gave me a fairly casual attitude toward anger.  I expect people to be angry at me.  I expect to be angry at other people.  I am well acquainted with my own anger, with the fact that it tends to flare suddenly and die just as quickly and completely.  If I stay angry for longer than five minutes, it's usually because I've squelched it rather than letting it out in the moment.

Which brings us to today.  Ministers are not so much encouraged to let out the anger, and I have realized that I kind of scare people when I'm flaring up.  I don't really want to scare my church members.  It seems that most of them did not grow up in families where yelling - or any expression of anger - was okay.  The anger in their families often either came from one member of the family, while the others cowered in fear, or was repressed entirely.  Anger, for me, is about an honest expression of pain.  For them, it's about someone not liking or loving you.  If I get angry at them, they think I dislike them, where I'm generally just thinking, "I was angry, now I've said it, and now I'm moving on."

So, what I'm doing today, in between meetings and phone calls and band practice later this evening, is pondering the middle ground in which I can be honest and express myself with integrity, and model good communication, and encourage people to address their problems directly rather than running around yapping behind people's backs and being destructive, without terrifying people and making them think that I'm just mean.

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