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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Hearth’s Warming Eve”

A lot of anger in this episode. Obviously, the bulk of it comes from the historical play about the founding of Equestria, and in particular the racism and prejudice that the three pony races had for one another. What’s notable, of course, is that when the three groups of ruler-and-assistant were forced to come together, the assistants readily began to act more cordial and civil as a matter of necessity of needing to share the same space.

The leaders, on the other hand, only grew more furious with one another, quibbling over things such as who owned individual rocks in the cave. When they were iced in and trapped, they only continued to get angrier and blame each other for it. Even when they reached the point where they were literally freezing solid, they only grew angrier and angrier yet, as if that was the most important thing in the world to them.

As I’ve said before, all emotions are gifts from God and not evil in and of themselves. What matters is what we end up doing with them. Anger as an emotion has its place and uses. We should be angry at injustice, oppression, bias, sin, and evil, for example, because God is. And when working out, sometimes I’ve found it helpful to “get mad at” whatever I’m pushing for or trying to drive my body past.

Why does the latter case work? Because anger can be energizing and uncomfortable at the same time. It “wakes us up” out of apathy or a dull state and gets our heart pumping, our adrenaline rushing, and drives us to take action. Angry enough, and we start pushing past our personal limits to accomplish more; both physically and in terms of fear or personal doubt.

But, of course, anger can also be detrimental. Being unable to control anger leads to wildness, violence, screaming, overreacting, snapping, and a host of other ill behaviors that not only are harmful to others around us and drive people away, but can be harmful to ourselves. A person who’s always angry quickly becomes unbearable. And nursing anger can quickly lead to having a hateful attitude toward individuals, entire groups of people, or even society at large.

As I said before, anger can have a positive side. As a result, some people can become “addicted” to it and then start to have problems with anger management. Perhaps they’re insecure or constantly feeling nervous or afraid of situations, and they end up turning to anger to empower them. Or using it as a response to mask their own inadequacy or immaturity as it quickly gives them a rush while cowing others.

For people who suffer with this problem, often counselling or professional help is necessary to overcome it. But it won’t reach that point if people act like the girls do in this episode…fail to take responsibility for their own anger and, instead, insist that “those guys are the ones making me angry”. As someone who tries to keep his own anger from going too far, I struggle with this a lot. I don’t know how many times thoughts like the following ran through my head, and I wonder how many of us have felt the same way:

“I know I shouldn’t have yelled at that person working the drive through, but they weren’t paying attention and screwed up a simple order! She made me angry!”

“I shouldn’t have sped around that guy like a crazy person, but if he knew how to drive I wouldn’t have had to! It was his fault, and he made me angry!”

“I don’t care if I shouldn’t have thrown that drink against the wall! I was winning at this game and then it started cheating! I just went right through that platform! It made me angry!”

The fact is there’s nothing in the world that can “make” me angry. There aren’t magic rays or anything out there that suddenly make me feel a different emotion. If there were, everyone would get angry at the same things. I choose to become angry at things or I choose to remain calm. I choose to let things impact me enough to elicit anger, or I choose to not let them bother me and keep going. Getting into the habit of saying other things “make” me angry is a form of immaturity. It’s me refusing to take ownership for my anger and, as a result, letting it control me and dictate my actions.

Proverbs 25:28 cautions: “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” In other words, not a city at all but a ruin anything can come into and go as it pleases, and with everything inside unprotected and up for grabs. On the other hand, in Proverbs 16:32, the Bible states: “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Just as a person without self control is constantly liable to lose everything, a person who has self control is secure even against far greater powers and adversity. The ability to keep calm and in control through a crisis is a hallmark of great leaders and great Christians alike. It’s a sign of having your passions in check; directing them as you need them rather than the other way around. Lastly, it’s a sign of responsibility and maturity; owning up to what is my problem, correcting it, and resolving it.

What happens to me as a part of life isn’t necessarily my fault, but how I respond to what happens to me is always my responsibility. That includes not only taking control and owning up to my anger but, if my anger is out of control, seeking help from God, the Church community, and maybe professionals to resolve it.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, please help me to always be a responsible individual, especially in regards to my own emotions. Help me to resist the temptation to blame something external to me for my own reactions and to act in a manner that is self-controlled. Please forgive me for times I have lost my own temper, and if I am having a hard time controlling myself, I affirm now my desire to change this. Please lead me to the help I need to overcome my out-of-control emotions. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”