The Missing Peace is a book by John Lee about getting free from the rage that leads us to addictions. It’s an excellent book. He distinguishes between anger and rage, anger being the God given way we deal with bad things and rage being inappropriate overreactive dwelling on the same things. Anger expressed appropriately doesn’t hurt people and can be expressed quickly. Rage can last years and almost always hurts people, including ourselves. Lee describes various forms of raging, various triggers that set off rage even years after a hurt was inflicted, and something called regression, an almost automatic trip to the past to deal with things that are happening in the present. I’m writing this on the fly, so my apologies for any shortcomings in my description of what John Lee says. Toward the end of the book, John Lee describes his own experience in getting out some of his own rage and suggests that unless we get ours out we will continue to rage. So, here are some areas of rage I’ve noticed in myself. Maybe they are affecting you too and you too have bottled them up.
Time lost or wasted. There’s all the time I had to spend in school every day for years while fun things and just being a kid waited for me to come home and engage in the life God meant for me to have. (Now, I do appreciate the result of schooling, believe it or not even things like math and trig and biology. But hey, why did it have to take so much time and why did we have to be forced to learn that much we really didn’t have to know?) Then, there’s the time my dad didn’t have for me when I was a kid. I would have loved to throw the baseball more, play a board game together, or even just talk. We did have some time, but it just wasn’t enough. And then, there have been years when I was a workaholic and practically spent every waking hour in busyness, but not with my kids. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. But, how about a little balance? Now, I’m 49 and out of shape and throwing a baseball isn’t easy to do anymore.
A heart cut out. Sometimes it’s an attack on the things you love. The music I listened to when I was a teen, or the shows I watched, or the activities that I enjoyed (I’m not talking morally bad stuff). Sometimes it’s an attack on people you love. I’ve watched my wife get bullied out of doing something she poured her heart into. I’ve had a "lady" slight my wife to my face. A psycho(logist) once told me that I had bad parents. I mean, I’m fully aware of their shortcomings, but hey. Sometimes it’s an attack on your dreams or your character. A job taken away from you. Being told you’re a loser (though everyone isn’t agreed on that). Being told you’re lazy, just because you’re doing something you want to do (finally, after years of being a workaholic). Sometimes it’s an attack on your personhood. Being left for someone else or for no one, at whatever age. Being thought so little of, that someone could ignore you, forget you, or be mean to you.
Pressure to be someone you’re not or to do something you’re not ready for. Maybe it’s your parents’ hopes or expectations of what you’re going to be when you grow up (my parents were really good about not pressuring me in this area, despite what the psycho(logist) thinks about them). Maybe it has to do with personality traits or abilities. Like, you’re a gentle, compassionate male expected to be a warlike he man, or you’re drawn to music but expected to be an athlete. Maybe it has to do with tough behavioral expectations, like the boldness to witness your beliefs publicly or the ability to forgive. Maybe it has to do with beliefs. You’re expected to believe something you’re not really sure about. Even small pressure is pressure, like being nagged to take care of little things right now when you have something else on your schedule. All of these pressures have a purpose and all the pressures in my life have served to challenge me in good ways too, but if you’re not ready yet and someone pushes you anyway, it’s just maddening. Even the implication that I just have to accept these expectations is a maddening pressure, especially if I have to accept it right now, because maybe I’m just not ready. OK?! I mean, "Do unto others…", please.
Injustice and being on the receiving end of another’s hurtful rage. My 2nd grade teacher gave me a spanking for something I didn’t do. What was that about? I’m sick and tired of getting honked at because someone else is in a hurry, probably because they don’t want to get yelled at for being late, or because they’ve been honked at for being slow, or because their parents for God knows what reason taught them to honk at people. Want to get dumped on? Be a counselor, or a pastor, or a teacher, or a policeman, or a grocery store clerk, or a bank teller, … or a parent, … or a child, … or just anybody. I mean, it helps a little to know when you get dumped on that it’s someone raging over something you didn’t do, but sometimes they do make it feel like it was you that did it, and it can be shocking nevertheless. And, sometimes it doesn’t stop at just dumping. Spankings hurt when you’re in 2nd grade. Can I ask: do hurting people have to hurt other people?
Part of getting the rage out is recognizing it. If my list helps someone else recognize some of their own, wonderful. Better to recognize it and get it out in an appropriate way than to bottle it up, bury it, gloss over it, and pretend you’re not hurting or angry. However, just recognizing it and continuing to rage isn’t productive. Next step: express it in prayer and find a safe group to talk about it, and maybe find a good counselor too. So, you’re a raging maniac? Yes I am… in recovery.