Even with the lockdown, there still seems to be a need for meetings. The various chaplaincy roles that I have are no exception, but know like so many others these are taking place on-line in a virtual meeting place. New rules and protocols apply like muting yourself unless speaking, raising your hand to speak and thumbs up or down for agreeing, or otherwise, to decisions. Eye to eye contact and looking at whoever is talking is also a changing concept in this technological advancement.
One thing that you can’t completely take away however is the ability of some people to say something that you don’t agree with. Maybe it was his phrasing, or the tone of his voice, but it sure made me angry! This was in a meeting I was part of, and a bit of an ongoing contentious issue was raised yet again. In my opinion he was ‘out of order’, and so I let him know how I felt. I didn’t hold back, and as you can imagine the meeting finished with a different feeling and air to which it started.
After the meeting I spent a bit of time thinking about what had happened and why I had been angry with this other person. Sometimes it needs a bit of a change of tone, even anger for others to take notice and realise how others are feeling about things. Sometimes it is right to get angry especially in relation to situations such as injustice, inequality, lack of inclusion, discrimination, and the list could go on and on… But what I realised as I reflected, was that whilst my situation perhaps required an angry response, the way in which I treated the other person wasn’t as it should have been. Everybody has the right to be treated with respect and be able to both hold and express their opinion on any given subject. If I don’t agree, do I in return have the right not to treat them with some form of respect?
People often disagree with elements of faith and belief. Sometimes this comes out as anger, which is directed at individuals and can be very personal, aimed at causing hurt and distress. How we react to those moments colours not only their opinion of the faith, but also how we actually are succeeding in living out the core ethos of our Christian faith. Our commitment to live according to the example and teaching of Christ Himself. Our ability to do as Christ did and not only turn the other cheek, but also to be a guide for others towards God Himself.
Two contrasting passages from scripture came to mind for me. Firstly, how Jesus reacted to the money changers in the temple. His anger was at the situation, and as they weren’t listening to the teaching, He took to extreme measures. Secondly, the other thing that filled my thoughts was being told that if I’ve wronged someone I need to make peace with them before I present myself to God.
My anger was with the situation, not with my colleague who voiced it in the way he did – I think perhaps he will be getting a couple of beers when next we can meet in person!
It is good to reflect when we have been angry. But when was the last time I did this properly?
Deacon Ian Black