Pants that force me to suck in my stomach all day long. Never mind that I bought them that way thinking I wouldn’t have to squeeze into them after a two-day juice cleanse. For some dumb reason, I can’t force myself to throw the pants away.
People who are mean online. The internet has made us cruel. Being able to say whatever we want without having to look into the eyes of the person we are saying it to brings out the worst in us.
Romantic comedies with a surprisingly sad ending. Don’t throw me a curve ball, movie people.
Any injustice against a child. Abuse, exploitation, mean looks, you get the idea.
When my dogs track mud into the house after I just mopped the floor. I mop the floor maybe twice a year, it is a cardinal sin to muddy up my bi-annually cleaned tile.
Moms in Syria who are lying awake at night keeping watch over their families and pleading with God for enough food for the coming day. Pleading, give us this day our daily bread, literally.
Bullies. Seeing an adult male belittle a teenage boy at a bus stop is the closest I have ever come to hitting another human being.
Running out of hot water in the middle of a shower. Just last week I rinsed the conditioner out of my hair with freezing cold water. I may or may not have cried about it. Thank you, PMS.
Here is the truth: this is a totally jacked up list, and I know it. Uncomfortable pants and starving families should never be on the same list. But as I sit here writing at my kitchen table, I realize life is full of opportunities to fight the things that make us angry. Our responsibility becomes choosing which ones we give our attention to. And to answer the question: What is my anger accomplishing?
I saw this woman absolutely lose it in a restaurant yesterday. She was furious because her pizza was taking longer to cook than she thought it should. Earlier that day, I had eaten breakfast with my friend Natalie who works with Africa Inland Mission. We talked about the hundreds of millions of people all over the world who would go to bed hungry that night. As I sat in the pizza place watching this woman berate a teenager for a slow-cooking pizza, I realized we live in a world where people get angry about things that do not matter, but do not get angry about things that do matter.
Perhaps the reason for this is because we forget how powerful anger is. Right behind sexual attraction, anger has the most potential to make us do extraordinary things.
I heard it said once that anger is like fire – it can be used to save the world or burn it. With all that power it is no wonder we don’t know what to do with it. And so we yell at the teenager making pizzas instead of standing up to real injustices.
Add to this the misconception that being a spiritual person means never getting angry, and it is even more disorienting. I think that is why I find Jesus so fascinating. He got angry and was completely unpredictable. Even the friends he hung out with every day weren’t sure how he was going to respond in certain situations. One day he is embracing a woman who slept with a married guy, saving her from getting stoned to death, and the next day he is throwing tables around in the church and yelling at the religious leaders for creating burdensome rules that were too much for anyone to follow. Some people find this disturbing, a God who gets angry, but I would find it more disturbing to think about following a God who sees exploitation and injustice and does not get angry. After all, some things are worth getting angry about and other things are just inconveniences to be acknowledged. Anger is simply an emotion – what defines it is what we do with it.
This is why I am going to leave you the way we started, with a simple list about what we will do with our anger.
Some people are looking for a fight because they aren’t in one (this includes impatient women at pizza parlors). We will pick a fight for a worthy cause.
Words are boomerangs, when we send them out they circle right back around with the same force we sent them into the world. This is why we will resist the urge to post on our social media of choice anything we would be embarrassed to say to someone’s face.
Niceness is not a virtue. Truth-telling, kindness, forgiveness and even anger (when it is used to bring healing to the world) are. We will get comfortable with our anger.
When we see terrible things in the world we won’t be tempted to be mad at God, we will be mad alongside God.
And lastly, we will take our too tight pants to Goodwill. Because pants are way too boring to waste perfectly good anger on. Amen.
Mandy’s new book, “Starry Eyed: Seeing Grace in the Unfolding Constellation of Life and Motherhood” is being released on August 30th! Pre-order it now on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble online.
She’ll also be on tour with JJ Heller in cities all across the country starting this fall. Check out mandyjarioto.com for tickets and dates.
As President and CEO of MOPS international, Mandy represents the mothering voice of the 100,000 member mothering organization. Before joining MOPS International, Mandy was a preaching pastor at MOSAIC in Southern California. She is widely accepted as a relationship expert, and has been featured on MSN, theknot.com, thenest.com and Fox. Mandy speaks to national and international audiences on the topics of Mothering, Leadership Development and Cultural Trends.
She and her husband are in the throes of raising three young kids to be adventurous, tender-hearted world changers. Look for her first book, Starry-Eyed coming Spring 2016.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Hello, Dearest. If you didn’t get a copy and would like your own, you can subscribe to get Hello, Dearest in your mailbox every season. If you subscribe, forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll shoot a copy of the current issue in the mail to you for free … just because we like you.