TAKE THE RIGHT ROAD
Have you ever been so angry that it drained the life out of you? I mean the kind of anger that doesn't go away. Someone hurt you and you can't get it off your mind. You think about the offense every day, maybe rehearse in your mind what you'd like to say to the person. Soon your anger takes on a life of its own. You become a different person. You're a slave to your hostile emotions. Every day your joy is stolen by your decision to feed your anger and keep it alive. Meanwhile, you're dying inside. The real you is rotting away and you feel tired, depressed and hopeless.
Anger is energy. Staying angry takes a lot of energy. So the person who is hurt most by anger is the one who's angry. Someone once said, "Anger is like taking poison and wishing someone else would die." Angry people often suffer from headaches, ulcers, and many other physical symptoms.
Anger is really stupid if you think about it. Someone or something hurt you badly, so you respond by carrying around poisonous emotions that end up making you sick, destroying your relationships, and hurting you even more. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!
I know what it's like to be angry. Someone hurt me a long time ago, and I couldn't get over it. I wanted to get over it. I tried to forget it, but I just couldn't let it go. Within a few months, I became a hateful person. I didn't smile much. I was tired all the time. I snapped at people for the smallest things. It was almost as if something evil had taken over me. I went to see a therapist, and he called it bondage. I was in bondage.
Bondage is slavery. Who would voluntarily put herself into slavery? I signed up for my own destruction because I chose to stay angry instead of to forgive. The price I paid for my anger was destroyed relationships and a broken family. The damage was irrepairable. My anger changed my life and the lives of the people I loved.
What a powerful emotion anger is. We need to watch out for it. God warns us about the danger: "If you are angry, be sure it's not out of wounded pride or bad temper. Never go to bed angry--don't give the devil that sort of foothold." What kind of foothold? In his years of counseling, Roger Barrett has come to believe that resentment destroys more individuals and relationships than any other emotion: "It rips people apart, sets them up for emotional breakdowns, and damages relationships, often beyond repair."
Forgiveness has so much more going for it than anger. So why is it so difficult to take this high road? My answer would be pride. People have too much pride to forgive. They think forgiving is being weak. They think they deserve more. They want revenge. They want answers. Someone has to pay. So they dig a hole for themselves and crawl into the darkness of anger and resentment.
Experience is sometimes the best teacher. But we don't have to experience something to learn a lesson. We can learn from the experiences of others. If you want proof that anger is the most damaging emotion we can hold inside, just ask someone who chose the low road. You won't find a single person who reached the end of her journey and looked back and said, "I chose the best way." The low road is paved with regrets.
Next time someone hurts you, do the right thing for you. Take the high road. The scenery is so much better. Your steps will be light. And your heart will soar upon the freedom of forgiveness.