I enjoy being angry with people, don’t you? I’ve been angry with some people for so many years, my anger has mellowed into a fine wine of bitterness and judgment. I descend the stairs into the cellar of my memory, select a particularly good vintage, and uncork the bottle of my gall. I smell the aroma, I see the sparkle in the glass, and I drink my discontent to the dregs.
I hate to drink alone. Let me pour you a glass. Here’s what I’m serving today:
We invite others into our anger. Everyday offenses are fun to share; we summon others into our offense. “Can you believe what he said to me?” and “Don’t you just hate it she gives you that look?”
We spiritualize our anger. It’s easier to be angry when we are sure God is on our side. We remind ourselves that Jesus drove moneychangers from the temple and pronounced seven woes on the hypocrites. Along with King David we pray for their limbs to broken.
We rehearse our anger. Like an actor memorizing lines for a play, we imagine that sweet moment when we give voice to our rage and silence the mouths of those fools who have offended us. In our imagination we are cool and collected, but our imaginary words cut to the core and expose those idiots for the petty fools they are.
We treasure our anger. Some offenses are too precious to give away lightly. Better to hold them in the dearest corners of our hearts and count them among the treasures of our lives. Sometimes our deepest hurts become a part of our truest selves.
But then, just before this alcohol assimilates into body and my skin and sweat take on the stench of this putrid spirit, I remember there is a new wine, free and flowing from vineyard of God. Instead of exploring the cellar of my soul I can celebrate at the feast of heaven. I can enter the joy of my Master.
I can invite others to the feast of grace, mercy and forgiveness. Instead of throwing my own party, funded by the dark resources of my anger, I can show the way to a table of bread broken for us all and wine spilled without reserve or limit.
I can exchange the spirit of Man for the Spirit of Love. What the Lord did, he did from love. What David did is not my model. To use an imprecatory Psalm as an excuse to pray against my enemies makes no more sense than to use David’s life as an excuse to commit murder or adultery.
I can rehearse a different scene: one where my debt is cancelled, along with the debt of others and together we raise our glasses in a happy toast—not to our own cause, but the cause of love.
I can find treasure that will never decay. I can discover my other self, the one where Someone gives me a new name written on a white stone; where he calls me forth like Lazarus to walk in a new kind of life, and where I see not the shadow of my life, but life in the light of eternal day.
These are the draughts from which to drink: anger or joy. We can stumble through life on the cheap wine of earthly hurts and pain, or we can savor a supernatural vintage, poured from heaven fresh every day.