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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Forgiving the Angry Outburst


We’ve all done it. We have all let someone have a spray of our well-basted vitriol. And if there is a saint among us who hasn’t, they sure have thought it. Angry outbursts we have both given and received. What are we to conclude? Angry outbursts leave us feeling embarrassed, confused, and avoidant for further interaction—whichever side we are on.
But an angry outburst is just the external manifestation where the stress pressure became too great. Many times the target of the angry outburst was not the initial target. So many times people blow their cool with those who afford them safety; those they love, for instance.
The angry outburst is the transference of a heart going wild within.
Many levels below what we are even conscious of, frustrations build and topple us when we least expect them.
When We Are the Perpetrator
Seeking God’s forgiveness for when we have blown our tops is just as important as our remorseful apologies are for those who we got angry at. This is because we need to be able to forgive ourselves. Self-forgiveness may be impossible without knowing God has forgiveness us.
The good news is God has already forgiven us and so we can know when we go cap in hand God will oblige us.
Of course, our apologies to the person we have hurt must come complete with the assurance it won’t happen again. It’s up to us, then, to learn and apply strategies for managing our anger in these situations.
So there are at least two positive things we can do: experience God’s forgiveness and know we have earned the other person’s forgiveness because we won’t do it again.
Maybe nothing holds us better to account than the fear of breaking such a promise.
When We Are On the Receiving End
Being on the receiving end is no fun. Maybe we are hurt and humiliated, and maybe the person who has had the outburst is nowhere in sight. If no reconciliation comes we are left in a predicament. How do we process the fallout without an outlet for discussion?
Just as much of a challenge is receiving the transgressor in grace. Being able to look them in the eye requires both courage and compassion. They may be either very embarrassed or defiantly indignant. If they are embarrassed the outburst is easier for us to forgive. If they feel justified in their outburst, however, forgiving them increases in magnitude of difficulty.
But if we want our peace to return we let go of the matter.
We understand it occurred and we acknowledge it. But because we cannot do anything about it we let it go. And even if we could do something about it, we let it go because we can.
***
Angry outbursts that follow with embarrassment for a lack of control can and should be quickly amended by gracious forgiveness.
There is always room for forgiveness if we are interested in peace. Peace is worth the price forgiveness demands.
And if it’s not about peace for them, it’s about peace for us, personally. Why should another person’s angry outburst continue to upset us?
Most of all we can move on and grow despite the outburst, especially if both parties agree. Putting such things behind us, where we can, is a great blessing to all parties.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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