Abandoning Anger
by H. Wallace Goddard
Meridian Magazine
http://www.ldsmag.com

Under the banner of honesty, anger has been made into a virtue.

Under the banner of psychological well-being, the expression of anger has been made into a necessity. From the beginning, it was not so.

Any time we presume to judge another person, we are usurping the role of God. The Lord's discussion of motes and beams (See Matthew 7:1-5) underscores the mortal risks of such an undertaking.

Criticism is always presumptuous and ungracious.

And that is the problem with anger. It presumes that my view is the standard of truth. It exalts my needs while dismissing yours. It fills me with indignation in my least righteous moments. It assumes that the best way for me to help you is to paint your errors in vibrant colors.
When a battered, weary swimmer tries valiantly to get back to shore, after having fought strong winds and rough waves which he should never have challenged in the first place, those of us who might have had better judgment, or perhaps just better luck, ought not to row out to his side, beat him with our oars, and shove his head back underwater. That's not what boats were made for. But some of us do that to each other.
(Jeffrey R. Holland, 1984 Brigham Young University devotional speech)
Years ago Heavenly Father taught me that I did not have the right to correct anyone I did not love.

That seemed reasonable enough. Little did I realize the trap at the time. When I feel genuinely loving toward someone, I lose interest in correcting them. I just want to love and bless them.
All the religious world is boasting of righteousness; it is the doctrine of the devil to retard the human mind, and hinder our progress, by filling us with self-righteousness. The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs. If you would have God have mercy on you, have mercy on one another.
(Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.241)
The Christian writer, Frederick Buechner, makes keen observations about 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 at the feast is you.
(Wishful Thinking, 1973, p.2, Harper & Row)
It used to be thought that Type A or intense personalities were at greater risk of heart disease. Research reported by Redford Williams showed that it was not the intensity that killed people. It is hostility and cynicism. In fact, he aptly titled his book, "Anger Kills." When we feed and celebrate our anger, when we see others in the worst light, we are destroying our own hearts. Anger is like taking poison and waiting for that hated person to die.

The doctrines of the world teach us that we must get our anger out or it will fester and come out in monstrous forms. It will destroy you!

But research tells a different story: Expressing anger is not cleansing and it is not cathartic. It is addictive. The more we talk about our anger, the angrier we get.

Anger is not the expression of some unhappy but very real truth that must be shared and discussed.

It is one of Satan's ancient tools to eclipse love with indignation. Only when Heaven opens and gives us a glimpse of the eternal stature of those who are our partners, brothers, sisters, and children do we understand the great honor and trust that we enjoy.

The great truths always come from Heaven.

(edited by David Van Alstyne)

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