Rivulets of perspiration ran down my back as elbows and shoulders jostled me from all directions. The odor of sweaty bodies mixed with the pungeunt smell of dried squid and medicinal herbs in the passengers’ bundles. The train station of this major metropolis in East Asia was a teeming mass of humanity, and I was caught up in the middle of it.
After two weeks in the U.S. training new recruits for our small English school, I was returning to Asia with Lorraine, a kindergarten teacher from Toronto. We had already been traveling for about twenty hours, across twelve time zones, with very little sleep, and were badly in need of a shower and a decent bed.
Leaving Lorraine in charge of our pile of suitcases, I ventured out wearily to get train tickets for the last leg of our journey. But there were no lines for the ticket window. It was a desperate game of “first come, first serve” with each man for himself. I knew from experience that if I hung back politely, I would be there for a week and never make any progress.
“Dui bu qi, dui bu qi,” I apologized to those I bumped into as I reluctantly forced my way to the front of the pushing, yelling crowd and thrust my bills through the window, requesting two tickets to our intended destination.
“You’re at the wrong window,” the stone-faced employee informed me. “You need to go to that window over there.” A hand swept in the direction of another mob of impatient travelers several yards away.
Stunned, I turned to leave, facing the frantically waving arms and urgent shouts of the crowd pressing in from all directions. My heart pounded furiously and I felt a rising sense of panic as I realized there was no way of escape. Something in me suddenly snapped.
“AAAAAHHH!” I screamed, flinging my arms out and blindly pushing people out of my way until I escaped from the claustrophobic crowd.
“Are you OK?” Lorraine looked up with concern as I stumbled over to the spot where she’d been patiently guarding our bags.
“No, I’m not OK!” I sobbed. “I want to go home!”
Poor Lorraine didn’t know what to do with me. I was shocked, myself, at my outburst. But this explosion wasn’t just a result of the pressing crowd at that train station. I had allowed my anger to build slowly over time until it finally got away from me.
Have you ever exploded in anger? What about feeling irritated? Anger never starts at the level of explosive rage. It starts with small irritations or minor frustrations. If left unchecked, it can develop into resentment and bitterness, and eventually into burning rage. Unresolved issues of anger are dangerous.
“Don’t sin by letting anger control you,” we are warned in Ephesians 4:26. “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” (NLT). In other words, deal with those minor anger issues before they become major issues. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you WHY you are getting upset, and submit your “rights” in this situation to God. Control your anger before it controls you!
“Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 (NIV)