Getting angry over trivial matters is easy today. Many singles are in a constant state of irritation, frustrated by the single life and stressed out over annoyances at work.
Some singles constantly pick at others. These fault-finders have little patience and think everyone should live up to their unrealistic expectations. Whatever the cause, being hypersensitive is a sure way to ruin your happiness.
Does that mean we should lower our standards? Should we overlook incompetence and bad behavior? No, that's going too far in the other direction. But we all do need to perform a self-examination every so often to see if we're sabotaging our self.
Should everyone think like you do? Should everyone act like you do? Should they share your tastes in politics, music, food, cars, and clothing? Should you get angry over it if they don't?
It sounds silly, but many singles are actually doing that. They expect everyone else to be little clones of themselves. They're determined not to let others have the same choices they do.
Most so-called "irritants" are not worth wasting energy over: someone's hairdo, the way they slurp their soda, their out-of-style or sloppy clothes, their loud laughter. Someone butts ahead of us in a grocery line and it sends us away steaming for the rest of the evening. A politician makes yet another stupid statement and our blood pressure goes up 30 points.
Our happiness--our spiritual equilibrium--is too precious to let these devilish termites gnaw away at it. Those of us who are Christians and find our identity in Jesus would be wise to leave others to their ways and clean up our own act first.
Jesus addressed this topic when he said:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." (Luke 6:41-42, NIV)
On the other hand, some anger is legitimate, but we must use it wisely. If we let it percolate without purpose, it works against us.
Injustice demands action of some sort. A few years ago, I became aware of the work of the Innocence Project. This nonprofit organization fights to free wrongly convicted men and women from prison. To date its work has gained freedom and exoneration for more than 290 people.
Can you imagine being completely innocent of a crime and spending years and years in prison for something you didn't do? That made me angry. Every month I send a contribution to the Innocence Project to help with its work. It's a very small deed, I know, compared to the attorneys and interns who are working in the courtrooms and trying to reform a broken justice system, but in some way it does help.
I know you support worthwhile causes, too. We need to use our anger constructively to try to bring about change. There are many ways to do that, from contributing, to working, to circulating petitions, to writing elected officials.
Getting angry over the right things and doing something about it grows you spiritually. Jesus didn't get angry over whether the people he ate with belched or wiped their mouth with their sleeve. He was concerned about their souls.
We singles have to be self-monitoring. We can work ourselves into a state if we don't put the brakes on once in a while. There's a real danger of becoming picky or bitter.
We can't control a lot of things, but we can control our attitude. Learn how to overlook the unimportant. Discover that you can choose what you get angry over, and when you choose anger less often, you'll have more happiness to enjoy.
Ask God to make you less irritable, more tolerant of others, more relaxed. Learn to laugh at yourself. Changing yourself is a tall order, but when you ask God to help you, you're halfway home.
Life is a matter of choices. Choosing happiness over anger is one of them.