What makes you angry?

When I was young and newly married, Mike and I were part of a very small church. A young woman started attending with her brother and his young family. She was pregnant. Being fairly new at the church, I didn’t know if it was customary for them to host baby showers for expectant new moms, so I asked a couple women about it. One of the women very firmly said, “No, we do not do that for unwed mothers. We won’t do anything for her unless she is placing the baby for adoption.”

I was angry. I was fuming mad. I went home and talked to Mike about it. I complained about the injustice of such a position. I know a lot more about the complexities of adoption now than I did then, but I knew that was not a good answer.

I protested. They said, “If we throw a shower, we are condoning and celebrating her sin. If she places the baby for adoption, then we will know that she has repented.” I will spare you all the thoughts that ran through my mind right then.

I pleaded. I said, “What about the baby? Doesn’t the baby herself deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated? What about helping this poor (because she really was poor) young mother give her baby a good start? Demonstrating grace and redemption to her by caring for her?” They soon learned that I didn’t easily back down when I was passionate about something. They finally agreed that we could collect money to buy “Supplies for the baby only. Nothing special for the mom. No wrapping paper or fun stuff.”

I collected money. I bought a laundry basket and bath supplies and diapers and wipes. I showed them what I got with the money. And I delivered the supplies to the new mom and her little one shortly after her birth.

I rebelled. Before I delivered the basket, I added body wash and lotion for the mom and a sweet smelling candle. And I sat with this new, young mom, who was rather uncertain about most of the things in her life, and I talked with her. And I held the sweet, new baby. And I congratulated her.

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Something had brought that story to mind shortly before I heard someone say that if we are angered by something, we should look for the good and be grateful. That is not a new sentiment. I’ve heard that and other similar platitudes that encourage people to dismiss anger and move on instead of digging deep and finding out why it makes them angry many times before. Honestly, that makes me angry.

If you are angry, you are angry for a reason. I will spare you the psychological explanation for now.

Sometimes the reason might be that you have been selfish in your thinking, and you need to shift your focus to be able to see the situation more fully.

Sometimes the reason might be that it brings to mind a way that you have wronged someone else, and you need to ask their forgiveness.

Sometimes the reason might be that it rips the scab off your old wounds, and you need to tend to your own healing.

Sometimes the reason might be that someone else is being wronged, and you need to stand up and speak for them.

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I have to admit, I’m not likely to offer to plan a baby shower for an unwed mother today. That’s not because I feel any different about how they should be treated, but because everything about pregnancy and babies is hard for me.

And I’m not saying that’s what you should do either, necessarily.

I am passionate with a capital P about a number of things, issues that get me fired up, and I would love for you to share that passion. If we worked together, we could change the world.

I realize, though, that there are a lot of concerns around this world. I can only focus on a few. There are a lot of people who are marginalized and dismissed and shunned. You need to pay attention to what angers you, and do something about that.

If we all do that, we will change the world.

So next time you find yourself feeling angry, get curious. Ask yourself why, and do something about it.

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