Monday, October 5, 2009

Is There "Ancient" Anger Stored Away in Your Attic?

One of the primary reasons many of us don’t forgive is that we’re too angry even to consider it. We may or may not be aware of the anger we live with day to day. For plenty of people, the anger that holds them hostage to unforgiveness is a rage stored deep in the attics of their hearts. I refer to this as “ancient anger.” Ancient anger is like cobwebs strung across the attics of our hearts, and these cobwebs need to be removed. Frederick Buechner wrote about ancient anger:

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton you feast on is you.1
It is time to call a cleaning crew to clear out the cobwebs of anger. This cleaning crew can include a pastor, professional counselor, Bible study leader, Sunday school teacher, a prayer partner, or a spiritually mature friend—anyone who will really go in there with you for a thorough cleaning. Let me tell you that if that mass of cobwebs isn’t cleaned out, you can pretty much count on the unlikeliness of becoming free from unforgiveness. The cobwebs of ancient anger will tangle you up!
As we know, the Bible has a lot to say about anger. Does it address ancient anger? Yes, it does! Essentially we are exhorted to not even permit anger to age, much less become ancient. A memorable verse that comes to mind when considering the danger of prolonging anger is Ephesians 4:26–27: “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
(Free Yourself to Love: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness, pp. 140,141)

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