For a long time I have had a character flaw. I get very angry when someone, even though he realizes he is wrong, will not admit it…. We all make mistakes, but why not say, “I’m sorry; I was wrong,” and then correct what we have done? It also makes me very angry when someone insults me, and even though I would never physically attack them, I do attack them verbally, not with crude or vulgar words, but rather getting really worked up.
How can I control this? What can I do to restrain myself? I need help.
You have taken the first step of recognizing your own shortcomings, and the next step of asking for help. We congratulate you for wanting to overcome your tendency to get angry and lash out at others.
You get angry when someone refuses to admit being wrong, or insults you. But you yourself need to recognize that your anger doesn’t hurt that person. It only hurts you. It eats you up on the inside, and you must know that, for it is why you are asking for help.
Look at the example of someone who had every right to feel just the way that you do. Jesus Christ let Himself be crucified by men who were guilty of every kind of sin. He willingly let them beat Him and eventually kill Him, though He was guilty of nothing. He never sinned once, and yet He took the punishment of sin for each one of us. What was He feeling when they were accusing Him of things He didn’t do? Why didn’t He lash out at them? Why didn’t He speak up for Himself? Wasn’t He angry?
To answer those questions, we can only speculate, based on some of the words that Jesus said as He hung there on that cross. He said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”1 That doesn’t sound angry, does it? Instead, it sounds compassionate and loving. Jesus, the only one who never sinned, has shown us the example of how to treat others who mistreat us and who even falsely accuse us. We should pray for them as He did.
Is it easy? Not at all! It is only possible when we practice prayer as daily communication with God. This is not the kind of prayer that people pray right before taking a test, or when they are in a dangerous situation. Nor is it religious repetition. It is, rather, like talking to a friend on the phone, discussing our daily lives and feelings. As we build our personal relationship with Christ through this kind of prayer, our attitudes will gradually change. When we are offended, even though we feel hurt, we can respond with compassion instead of anger.
We wish you well,
1 Lk 23:34