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Breathe Peace into the New Year

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Galatians 6: tells us, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” 

At first blink, it looks like a caution against anger; “DON’T EVER BE ANGRY YOU NASTY SINNER!”  After a couple seconds, though, it looks different. It IS a cautionary statement, but also an acknowledgment that anger is natural.  We all get angry; it’s what we do with anger that matters — to us, to God, to those we love, and those around us.

I have a friend, call him Nathan.  He is kind, passionate about his friends and loved ones, a great listener, caring, and giving — would give the shirt from his own body to help someone in need. Nathan is in jail right now after he tried to help a friend. In the process of trying to rescue his friend from a crack house, his anger reached its boiling point, and he broke the jaw of a “bad guy.” Unfortunately, even though the crack dealer (bad guy) wouldn’t dare press charges for fear his occupation would be under scrutiny, the D.A.’s point system determined that a violent crime had been committed, landing my friend, Nathan, in jail for six months.  

It would be easy for me to tell Nathan to — as the title says — “Breathe away your anger and frustration.” Just inhale through your nose, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7; exhale through your mouth, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 — which is a great strategy for high emotions in many cases.  Still, when our anger is high, without a foundation of diffusion strategies, it is near impossible to walk away from that emotion.

Am I saying it’s okay to “sin” by giving full vent to our anger? Yes and NO.  We are going to slip because we are human. When we slip, we will pay the consequences, much like my friend, Nathan.  In order to keep from ALWAYS giving vent to our anger (or anxiety or fear), we need to lay a foundation of diffusion, humility, and forgiveness.

This means praying for humility DAILY; practicing “belly-breathing” so that it is THERE when we need it; memorizing Bible verses (so they are THERE when we need them); maybe start with verses on forgiveness, and humility. 

When we build a strong foundation of peace, forgiveness, and humility, then we will be able to call on our “tools” to ward of and to diffuse those STRONG emotions. We can’t expect to use a tool with which we have never practiced.  Right?

Try daily practice: prayer, memorization, and BREATHING.