These days, I’m filled with anger.
As someone who is dealing with an autoimmune illness and trying to function in a Covid-infested world, I struggle. I’m embarrassed to say that my greatest struggle is the anger I have towards the people who have chosen not to get the vaccine and the ones who refuse to wear masks when they haven’t been vaccinated.
For many of the anti-vaccine crowd, they take the opportunity to scream “freedom” every chance that they get. But why is their freedom more important than the freedom of a person with underlying health issues or a family with young children? They continue to tell those concerned about Covid that they should just stay home. But why should any of us who are trying to play by the rules be the ones who stay home? And why should the children in our lives be at risk because neighboring adults refuse to take necessary precautions?
Why must any of us deal with their ableism, individualism, and lack of compassion?
From this lack of consideration, anger grows within my soul. Then guilt stems from that anger. Is this anger a sin? Am I sinning against God by venting my frustration?
Scripture tells us again and again not to get angry. James 1 states “let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. (NRSV)” Proverbs 14 notes “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding… (NRSV)” And Ecclesiastes 7 says “Do not be quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools. (NRSV)”
Granted, the Bible affirms that humans should avoid being angry. But anger is a feeling. And sometimes we can’t help the bubbling anger inside of our hearts when we feel our loved one’s or our own well-being is being threatened. When we see the lack of care or connection that resides between our neighbors as we have during the era of Covid, frustration becomes our companion, and anger becomes its offspring.
I think Ephesians 4:26 says it best with this: “Be angry but do not sin…” (NRSV). Anger, frustration, and resentment are valid feelings. Our emotions are real and often appear whether we want them or not. But our reactions are key in how we navigate this time. Screaming our frustrations to God is a valid way to release our emotions. Verbally expressing our emotions with a trusted friend or counselor is another healthy way for us to process these intense thoughts. Claiming these feelings is crucial to our mental, spiritual, and physical health. And yet, allowing these feelings to hurt another does not produce righteousness, as James said.
I suppose the Serenity Prayer is one way to sort the myriad of emotions that also accompany anger. What is it that we can control? What can’t we control? How will God help us discern between the two?
I pray that this anger will subside as anger is not a fun companion. I pray that we all will think of ourselves as the Body of Christ – interconnected with one another – whether in our communities or throughout our world.
The Rev. Michelle L. Torigian is the Senior Pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Belleville, Illinois. Her essay “Always a Pastor, Never the Bride” was in the RevGalBlogPals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit. She also has chapters in the books Sacred Habits: The Rise of the Creative Clergy and A Child Laughs: Prayers for Justice and Hope. Torigian blogs at http://www.michelletorigian.com.
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