Anger is an important emotion, even Jesus got angry

English: Angry woman.

English: Angry woman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Facebook a mom friend of mine brought up an interesting point about anger and weakness.

It seems she is living in a rental apartment complex where many of the tenants do not have the same convictions about respecting something that is not yours.  The way her neighbours are treating the property makes her very angry, but she sees it as being weak.

As a spiritual director I have seen this quite often, especially from women/moms, who have been taught that to be angry is to be weak because Jesus was never angry.

Oh now I beg to differ with you.

As Catholic/Christians we often confuse anger with sinfulness. As faith filled women we are taught that being angry is not womanly, nice, the right thing to do. But we must remember that all emotions have no moral weight, it how we use them that gives them that weight; that Jesus himself had and used all emotions that emotions are tools given to us by God to help us navigate the world. And Anger is one of them.

Remember that Jesus is angry in several Gospels. His anger stems from issues of injustice – the cleaning of the temple, he finds the disciples asleep Jn 11:33 – basic need for support is taken away/promises not kept, in Mark 3:5 Jesus basic convictions are challenged when he heals a man with a withered hand. Anger has a purpose: it protects us from being harmed – when our basic convictions are threatened, it gives us the strength to stand up for ourselves. The sin comes when we use anger to be destructive instead of constructive. The sin comes when we use anger to attack others out of our own pain within being willing to work on the problem with ourselves or them. Anger is most destructive when we use it to enhance our own self esteem, become judge and jury over others, or use it to control others.

These Jesus never did and the Church would call these anger reactions as sinful.

Note:  A word about sin.  For centuries when we heard the word sin we would become spiritually paralyzed unable to receive forgiveness; we would go to Reconciliation and come away still berating ourselves.  For many the word sin is/was seen as a label that marks you as unchangeable.

The Church recognizes sin as a separation of ourselves from God AND neighbour.  Often sin is a result of deep hurt that makes us want to hurt not only God but also ourselves.  We can no longer see ourselves as the daughters of God that we are, that is sin.

Think of sin as it TRULY is deep woundedness that must be healed.  Reconciliation is going to God to discuss what has hurt you, and for God to listen with love and give you that healing hug you so desperately need.

Is a spiritual director working helping moms find God in the everyday. She has been a spiritual director since 1998: worked as a Director of Religious Education for Holy Cross Parish(2000-2005), was Director of Project Rachel, a healing ministry for Post Abortive women(1999-2000). Patty worked a social worker for Catholic Social Services (1988 - 1995) Then studied for spiritual direction at the Dominican Center of Religious Studies, DeWitt Michigan

She is married 20 years and has four children

She has a BS/BA in social work from Aquinas College, CSD Certified Spiritual Director

4 Comments

  1. Patricia,
    On the subject of anger, I agree with you. There is clearly a place for righteous anger – I guess the trick is making sure we are righteous!
    On sin, I found your observation – “For many the word sin is/was seen as a label that marks you as unchangeable” – very interesting. I had not thought of it this way before. If people believe that sin marks them as unchangeable, then it seems to be they are trusting in themselves for their salvation, not in God. There is no sin too big for God. For us to label ourselves as unchangeable says that God is not powerful enough to act in our lives. Truly, we are our own worst enemies!
    When you get right down to it, I believe all sin really comes down to a void in our lives that we attempt to fill with a substance, emotion, or behavior. Alcoholics, drug addicts, porn addicts, etc. are all searching to fill the hole in their heart. The trouble is that they have made an idol of their addiction and set their addiction on the altar to worship.
    As you say, sin is a deep wound. We must allow ourselves to be loved by God in order for us to be healed. Self hatred ensures that the cycle of sin and shame simply perpetuates itself.
    http://www.passionatepapist.com
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  2. Sean,

    Thank you so much for your comments. I am glad we had a chance to connect via Facebook. I am a social worker and spiritual director by training, and when I speak of the label of unchangeability and sin you should know that these thoughts and understanding of labels come from our childhood experiences. How we learn of God, other people and ourselves is a direct reflection of how we saw faith and life lived out in our families. If our father was distant than God is distant. If our mothers were controlling than we must control, and God becomes secondary. If we suffered abuse, than we have huge spiritual trust issues with God.

    All of this creates within us a feeling of worthlessness and that makes it hard for us to see ourselves as unable to change.

    Sean, I have worked with and am still working with people who desperately want to have a more mature relationship with God and by that a changed attitude about themselves and others. Please don’t make those who have these issues feel even more unworthy by implying they are somehow so arrogant to not let God do his work! See my post: http://pattyperkowski.com/2012/11/02/spiritual-painillness-is-real/

  3. Patty, thanks for that feedback. What you say makes sense. I did not mean to paint with too broad a brush, but that’s the danger of brief back-and-forth comments across the wire I guess.

  4. Pingback: Managing Anger | daily meditation

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