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Unpredictable Emotions

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wednesday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

“God said to Jonah, ‘Have you reason to be angry?’” (Jonah 4:4)

Anger was not an acceptable emotion in my childhood home. Needless to say, explosions sometimes occurred anyway,   perhaps more violently because they were forbidden. It wasn’t until much later in life that I realized that a rising temper can be, like the temperature gauge on my car, a valuable indicator that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

 

A wise friend told me that, in simple terms, we usually feel angry for one of two reasons: failed expectations, or a real or perceived threat to self or loved ones. If I stop to take my emotional temperature and look for a cause, I can often diagnose the problem without losing my temper. Just understanding why I’m angry helps me deal with the situation. The anger has served its purpose.

 

In the last chapter of the book of Jonah, the prophet gets angry twice: first because his expectation that God would destroy the city of Nineveh was not met, and second because a shade tree that soothed him withered and died, leaving him without protection from the sun. In both cases God asked, “Have you reason to be angry?†God set Jonah up to see the selfish motives behind his own feelings. I have a suspicion that God has set me up once or twice, too.

 

Anger is a reasonable emotion, especially if it helps me see reason. May I have the wit to notice!

 


God of all good gifts,

help me to use even my unpredictable emotions

to Your honor and glory

and for the benefit of others.

Amen.


Jan Wiersma
Chaplain, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital

God of all good gifts, help me to use even my unpredictable emotions to Your honor and glory and for the benefit of others. Amen.

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