What’s one of your pet peeves? Is it when someone chews with their mouth open? Maybe it’s when someone uses the word “seen” in a sentence inappropriately. For me, it’s bad drivers. I’m not sure that anyone else in the world took a driver’s education course but me. Other people either drive too close to me, drive too slow in front of me, neglect to use their turn signal when changing lanes, don’t know how to merge, or simply cannot drive. One of the more infuriating mistakes everyone (not including me because I’m a perfect driver) makes is when they back up traffic because they’re looking at what’s going on to the side of the road instead of just pressing forward. My family always called it “rubber-necking.” I cannot put into words how angry I get when I am sitting in traffic for what seems like forever only to realize that the backup was caused by nothing but rubber-necking. I might yell, “Drive your car and pay attention to the road, you’re causing a backup!” to those vehicles ahead of me. The term road rage was created because of people like me.
You see, everyone else on the road is a bad driver. You might be reading this thinking, “Not me! I’m a good driver. It’s everyone else who can’t merge!” Or, “not me, I follow all the rules! It’s everyone else that drives poorly.” But that can’t be true because, as I’ve already explained, everyone else is a bad driver, I’m the good one.
As ridiculous as this sounds – and it should’ve sounded ridiculous – this is how I feel most of the time on the road. I know I’m not a perfect driver. I’ve accidentally cut people off, I’ve followed too closely, I’ve changed lanes without using a turn signal, and I’ve merged horribly (sometimes). When this happens, I expect those around me to give me a little grace and just know that I made a mistake. Unfortunately, when other people on the road make mistakes, I do not give them the benefit of the doubt; I get angry.
This past weekend, Ben spoke about the villain of anger and defined it as “aggressively wanting to control what you cannot control.” If this doesn’t describe my road rage, I don’t know what does. When people don’t drive the way I want them to, I get angry. I think to myself, “Why would they do that!?” I want them to drive how I expect them to drive, and when they don’t, I get angry. This is my aggressively wanting to control what I cannot control.
This doesn’t just happen with driving, however. Anger manifests itself in many areas of our lives. When our relationships with people become difficult, we might get angry; if we experience continuous difficulties at work, we might get angry; and the list goes on and on. What do we do? If anger is aggressively wanting to control what you cannot control, then what do you do when you’re angry?
Ben gave us a simple acronym to remember that can help us in these situations: AIRR.
When we are angry, we need to Admit the aggression, Identify the burden, Rest in the one who is in control, and Reach out for what we can do now.
In one instance, Jesus tells us what to do in the midst of trying circumstances, which can include anger.
In Matthew 11, Jesus says one of the most peace-giving statements in the Scriptures. He says,
28Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Directly before this passage, Jesus talks about how when someone knows Jesus, it is a gift from God. This gift is offered freely from Jesus to us. What’s important to note, however, is that the gift of salvation is not merely about entrance into heaven. It should radically impact our lives here on earth. This is what it means to be in the Kingdom of God. When Jesus says to us, “I will give you rest,” he means it. Yes, he wants to give you rest from the law and its requirements, but he also wants to give you rest from the everyday problems you will encounter, including anger.
He continues and says, “Take my yoke upon you… for my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” A yoke is a piece of wood that fastens across the backs of animals in order for them to pull a heavy load. Often, we are carrying around such a heavy burden that it can be hard to press on. When we don’t deal with our anger, it can greatly contribute to this burden. In this, our yoke becomes heavy. Jesus wants to give us rest from many things, including our anger. This isn’t to say that Jesus is promising an easy life. On the contrary, Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and be willing to risk everything for his sake. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t burdens he is willing to bear for us, including our anger. If we just take it to him by Admitting, Identifying, Resting, and Reaching out, we can experience what it’s like to carry the light yoke that Jesus promises us.
What typically causes your anger?
How do you respond?
If there’s something in your life currently that’s causing you some anger? How can you practice AIRR?
Heavenly Father, thank you so much for your grace and mercy. I know that you promise me a yoke that is easy to bear and that this not only pertains to my salvation, but also my everyday life. Help me to deal with the things that make me angry in a positive way. Help me to rest in you. I ask all this in Jesus’ name, amen.
This post was written by Andy Rectenwald. Andy is the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study. He has a passion for bringing the Bible to life for people and for Christian Apologetics. He is married with two young children. You can follow him on twitter @andyrectenwald.
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