This was supposed to be the last post of a series about joy. Remember when I started this series on joy? It was Oct. 4 and we were just coming off the worst mass shooting in American history.
Well, now I'm almost done and guess what.......another horrific mass shooting.
Before sitting down to write this morning I listened to families in Sutherland Springs on the radio. They were trying to explain to their children why their friends were murdered in church.
And we are supposed to be joyful? Yeah right. Today I'm going to talk about a different core emotion.....anger.
I sat with a colleague this week who told me about his teenage son's innocent death in a drive-by shooting. He is a pastor and he shared that he was angry at God when this happened. It nearly broke him, and yet it didn't. Eventually, his relationship with God became more intimate. But only after he learned that his anger with God was a tool to go deeper, not a barrier of division.
It reminded me of something that has been attributed to the work of Dr. Taibi Kahler, who discovered Process Communication Model. He says,
the last hurdle of true intimacy is the ability to be angry with each other.
I have applied this wisdom to couples who come for counseling or pre-marital work. Sex is not the peak of intimacy, healthy conflict is where the real action is!
Well, the thing is....I've been really angry lately, but not the good kind.
I am angry at my fellow Americans, my elected officials, the NRA, President Trump, and on and on. For the most part, this has not been the kind of anger that creates positive change and allows for intimacy. Instead, I confess, this has been the kind of anger that seeks to destroy those who disagree with me, seeks allies to justify my position, and leaves me feeling helpless.
This is not healthy anger.
You see all that anger is energy and right now it is being wasted. It's a raging fire and it's energy is only destructive. But what if that energy were focused. Fire doesn't only destroy; it also creates!
I've heard floated the idea that this mass shooting thing is an unsolvable problem, but this belief is a myth and our destructive anger is stoking that myth. In reality, we already have enough energy, now we just need to use that energy for good! And I for one intend to so!
I am setting a course for change in my personal life so that I might impact the world in a bigger way. I am going to study harder, write more, and dig deeper into my life producing projects. I will confront toxic masculinity that gives young men the impression they can't be vulnerable and that their anger must be expressed in violence. I will hold friends, family, and acquaintances responsible for the contributions to systems of injustice and destructive anger. And will seek to channel that energy toward good.
To bring things full circle; I will not let evil and destruction steal my joy. It is even more important now to be joyful; to practice the skills that help me be joyful and to offer joy to those I disagree with so that we might find a different way forward together.
I will weep along the way but don't take that as a sign of weakness or a lack of joyfulness. Instead, be encouraged by those tears. It means my heart still breaks for the injustice in this world, and that I'm still working to get angry, bring joy, and impact change.
If you want to read my 5 tips for getting angry sign up for my Tune In Tip.