Do you yell or do you stew? Do you let it out or hold it in? Whether we yell out loud or swallow it, all of us experience the same emotions of anger and frustration.
One of my favorite priests growing up was the sweetest kindest man. I could never imagine him getting mad or yelling. And then I remember the first time he came over to our house to watch a football game. That priest was transfigured. He was screaming at the TV, red in the face, and jumping up and down.
And then there was a close friend of mine growing up who was very quiet and reserved. I never heard him raise his voice. One day after he had been over at my house doing some homework, I found a piece of paper that had fallen out of his backpack. On it was written some of the most hateful words about people at our school I have ever read. He may have never yelled, but the root was the same.
Going all the way back to Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, humans have had anger issues. We pass this anger from one generation to the next. One of the ways we do this is by yelling, whether that is at our children, our spouse, or the people on the road whose driving we don’t appreciate. Now, there are certainly times when it is appropriate to yell: when there is danger or you are raising your voice to be heard. I’m not talking about any of these valid reasons for raising your voice. There is a difference between yelling and yelling at someone. Yelling at someone doesn’t help them hear you. Yet, all of us do it.
But it isn’t enough to just hold our tongue. We can put others down through cutting sarcasm, or subtle passive-aggressive behavior. Or maybe you are the type that just speaks ill of others behind their back to get back at them. Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” This week, I invite you to stop putting others down and instead build them up. Instead of saying something negative or raising your voice, say something positive and lift someone up. “Know this, my beloved brothers and sisters: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19–20)