19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
I was trying to think of where verse 20 was in the Bible yesterday, and couldn't do it. I've struggled more with anger in the past six months than I can ever remember doing in my life, so I wanted to find this verse as a touchstone to remind myself that anger alone does not resolve anything.
Then, as I was cleaning out my bookshelf, I found a book called "Gap Creek" by Robert Morgan. I'd heard him speak at Cornerstone over ten years ago, eagerly bought the book, then hated every page of it when I read it. Disaster after disaster, people suffering so horribly (and then repeating the same mistakes that caused them to suffer in the first place) and intolerable supporting characters made me almost throw the book away at first. I have no idea why I kept it.
As I was considering whether to keep it or put it in the yard sale pile, I flipped through it, and landed on a chapter where the couple, Hank and Julie, were struggling through a period of unemployment. They had arguments, mis communications, times of pointing fingers and blaming, times of fiery intimacy. Every line was injected with new meaning in my heart--we'd been there.
Then, the couple has a baby, and it dies.
My middle daughter hit me with a piece of paper, "Mommy, can I PLEASE have a drink of water???" and I woke up from my reverie. I have no idea how long I was sitting there reading. Justin looked at me, and told my little girl to come back in five minutes. I broke down in tears, sobbing, hardly able to control my heart's outpouring. The pain of losing four babies to miscarriage, and a ton of security to unemployment, had been dislodged from my heart by a story. I'd covered it up with so much anger.
That's when I learned the true meaning of verse 20: anger does not produce the righteous life God desires, because so often it's covering up something else. Disappointment. Hurt. Shattered dreams. Loss of control. Mountains and oceans of grief. Now, when anger rises up in my soul, I'm trying to be aware of what I'm really feeling, and not simply snarl at the first person who happens to wake it up.