The day I am writing this (January 2), my calendar tells me that on this day in 1968, Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant operation. The thought of a heart transplant feeds my thoughts for this New Year and the hopes and dreams that “spring eternal” as we resolute our way into 2015.
So, would you like to have a new heart? Not a physical one (unless, of course, your health demands it), but a spiritual one. One that is able to choose hope over fear and love over anger. I suspect after a year like 2014, most of us would agree that a little more hope and a lot less anger would be a good start for the New Year.
Frederick Buechner describes anger this way: “Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”
So, what bit of anger are you holding onto? Or perhaps closer to the truth, what bit of anger is holding onto you? What piece of the truth did not get told, what confrontation was unfair, or what frustration festered into fear that exploded in anger? Well, whatever its source, I would plead that you set among your resolutions, hopes and dreams for the New Year, a determined desire to rid your life of all and every form of destructive anger.
Now I am the first to admit that the “what” is easier than the “how” on this “rid yourself of anger” New Year’s goal. Most of us, with a little bit of reflective energy, can locate the eye of anger’s storm. It, however, takes pure, passionate, persevering patience to stay the course in moving from the source to the cure of our anger.
But mark it well, my friends, it will NOT go away on its own. Much to the chagrin of those who thoughtlessly say, “time will heal all things,” the fact is, it doesn’t. Until you and I identify our anger and offer it to God in a prayer of cleansing confession, we will not “get over it.” It will cling to us like glue and suffocate any plans we have for hope and healing in the New Year.
So, why not start today? The old proverb was right: “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” Begin today moving from anger and sorrow. It starts with a simple prayer that invites God to transform your aches into opportunities, your regrets into possibilities, your anger into peace. Thanks be to God!