Melting Anger into Compassion
FEBRUARY 29, 2024
Identity: “I am exchanging my anger in order to truly love people.”
Scripture: If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? – Matthew 5:46
Loving those who are like us or those who potentially could become like us isn’t nearly as difficult as loving those who don’t resemble us in any way.
They look different.
They smell different.
They think different.
They don’t laugh at the things you think are funny.
They think your music is weird and your food is bland.
They are simply unlike you. When people are unlike us, we can easily avoid, ignore, and dislike them. When people wrong us, our dislikes move into hatred, bitterness, and resentment.
Has someone wronged you? How long have you been carrying that anger around? Who is the person you are withholding love from? About ten years ago, one of my closest friends wounded me deeply. In my grief, I became angry. Really angry. I went to my Pastor Kris at Trinity Anglican Mission in Atlanta. We went to lunch and then sitting in his car afterwards, he said to me, “Alex, one day this anger of yours towards _______ is going to melt into compassion.” I’ll never forget that phrase… melt into compassion. The image of melting something seemed right. He didn’t say it would “vanish” or “disappear.” Instead he said “melt” which meant that it would take time, focus, and process. If you’ve ever moved from a place of anger to forgiveness and compassion, then you understand the kind of work that goes into melting anger.
Give yourself a few moments to become mindful that you are in the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Once you’re “there”, bring the anger and relational wounds into the room. Place yourself before the Crucified One, and begin to lay your anger down at his pierced feet. Let him love you as you are. As you sense his nearness to you and fondness of you, confess the anger, speak of the pain, and ask for his grace to help you then turn and extend it to the wrongdoer. Today is a day to let your anger melt into compassion.
“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them. Can this be charity?
— Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island, pp. 177-178.