Have you ever tried to handle an angry kitten? With tiny claws and tinier teeth, the little ball of fur will swipe and gnaw at any hand that tries to pick it up, giving the offending hand a few tiny scratches at most.
If the kitten would just let itself be picked up it would see that everything is fine, but it still ignorantly resists. For most of my life I’ve felt like an angry kitten swiping angrily but uselessly at life’s problems and injustices.
My mom tells me I was an angry baby. From the moment I was given to her by the foster care worker, I screamed, cried and kicked with all the strength I had in my tiny body. It didn’t matter if there was truly something wrong or not, I was going to be angry at whatever was happening. At one point, I even threw myself out of my crib in protest of being put in time out.
Since then, I wish I could say my temper has faded, but while I haven’t thrown myself out of anything since being a baby, my temper hasn’t diminished. In fact, the older I’ve gotten and the more I understand about the world, the angrier I fear I’ve become.
I live in a fallen world that’s full of social and environmental problems that social media makes more evident every day. On top of that, the Lord has led me to seek work in the news industry, so I spend most of my time digging around in the worst of the world’s political and social issues.
With every court case, police report and forest fire that comes my way, I can feel rage bubbling up in me. How could this be happening? How can people treat each other this way? Why can’t people work together to stop it?
The more I think about those questions, the more exhausted and helpless I feel myself becoming. In such a big and complicated world, how can a small person like me accomplish anything?
A couple months ago, I finally crashed. All my tumultuous thoughts and feelings became too much, overwhelming and drowning me. I remember feeling like my anger was burning, like a bad fever that was just devouring me from the inside. After my rage died down a little, a heavy weight settled on me and dragged me down so far, I never wanted to get up from my bed again.
In that moment, lying in my bed with my phone trying to forget what was happening, the Lord gave me clarity. As I scrolled through Instagram on my phone, a verse came across my screen.
“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth” (Psalm 37:8-9).
I sat up and suddenly a dozen verses were showing up on my phone. I spent a good half an hour just reading, being reminded that my ideas of justice do not line up with God’s ideas of justice. That things will happen in His time and not mine. That revenge is His to take, and His alone. That my anger was doing nothing but hurting me and potentially those around me.
I was an angry kitten fighting someone bigger than I am, who only needed to let the Lord stop me, pick me up and take care of the situation in His perfect way.
I was and still am humbled by the lesson the Lord taught me that day. Since then, I’ve tried to reign in my temper more, though any progress seems painfully slow. I want to pick and choose my battles with more calm and better wisdom, so I pray the Lord will keep teaching me. With His strength, maybe one day I’ll be closer to being the good person I want to be.
“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Prov. 16:32).