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Boiling Point

Read Ephesians 4:26-31

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” (James 1:19-20 NLT)

Boiling PointWhen I was a teenager, I could really get angry sometimes. I was not one who got that mad often; however, I have always been the type of person who would hold things in, bottle it up as it were, and not really let anyone know I was upset in a constructive way. I was kind of like a soda bottle. You could shake it a little, then a little more, then a little more. Following the first slight shake, not much happens. But with each subsequent shake, more and more pressure builds up until, at some point, the cap bursts off the top and the soda come-a-flyin’ out like a volcanic eruption.

Often times, by the time I got that upset, it was usually something relatively silly that ended up bringing me beyond the explosion point. This may be shocking to people who know me because I am typically an easy going guy; however, everyone has that point that they reach where they get so angry they can’t contain it. I remember this one time I got angry while I was hanging out with friends. To be honest, I don’t remember what I was angry over. I am sure that I had gotten into an argument earlier with my parents. I know that there were other things going on that I was holding in as well. Again, I can’t remember what made me mad at that particular moment, but I remember punching the wall out of anger. Now, this was not a smart move…at all…because the wall was made of cinderblock. I didn’t break anything, thankfully, but boy did my hand let me know how utterly foolish I was in my anger!!!

Now, if we’re all honest, there is nothing really shocking about me getting angry…especially as a teenager. Teenage angst is not a new thing. The real problem was not that I was getting angry, but that I was not communicating well what I was getting angry over. I was pretending like I wasn’t angry until I couldn’t pretend anymore. Once that point was reached, there was no turning back. I would explode over something relatively petty and it almost always resulted in the wrong person taking the brunt of my anger. The fact is that, if I had addressed my being upset to those who were actually hurting me, or at the very least talked about my being hurt with those who loved me enough to listen, I wouldn’t have EVER gotten to the boiling point.

When I look at the United States of America today, and when I look at our world, I see people who have reached their boiling point. They’ve been holding in their hurt, their anger, their rage, and now everything (big or small) that happens sets people off into explosive, and often violent, behavior. Whether we are talking about the riots going on around the country, or work place violence, or other explosive situations, I see a world gone mad in the hurt it has been trying to, or forced to, contain for so long.

Christ is calling us all to lay down our swords and to be agents of love and peace; however, the only way we can begin to do this is to begin to communicate with the people. We need to be honest with others when we feeling hurt or upset, and we also need to be good listeners, slow to speak and quick to listen to those who are feeling hurt and upset. This is not easy work. In fact, it can be quite trying and painful; however, if we are ever to move beyond the realm of pain and of a violence that only creates more hurt and pain, then we will have to begin to be honest with ourselves and with others. We will also have to begin to be humble enough to learn compassionate listening. I pray we are all up to the challenge.

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha

Lord, help me to be honest about my hurts and pains, to be humble enough to be a good listener for others, and allow me to be a peacemaker within myself so that I can make peace in the world around me. Amen.