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The “boys and girls, have at it” mentality sometimes leads to dramatic displays of frustration. Helmets flying. Fingers wagging. Tongues spouting harsh words about suspicious debris cautions.
When drivers get their ire up, some fans criticize and others defend, generating arguments in living rooms and on Twitter. Annoyance, irritation, antagonism. Whatever you call it, anger is an emotion common to all of us. The question is ... is anger bad?
Getting angry is not a sin. But how we respond once we are angry can be an epic problem. The Bible offers guidance on how to handle anger:
* Be slow to anger
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. ~ James 1:19b
Some of us have calm dispositions and remain unruffled most of the time. But others become annoyed easily, and need to work on taking deep breaths when we feel ourselves getting irritated.
* When you do get angry, settle it quickly and let it go.
In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. ~ Ephesians 4:26
Sometimes we’re carrying around a hauler-sized load of anger without even realizing it. Do you get ticked off easily or feel a prickle of irritation just below the surface much of the time? Do you nurse a grudge by dredging it up and thinking about what happened? If so, you are stirring a stew of anger.
Anger can wreak havoc on your day, but when it drags into weeks, months or years, it erodes your peace of mind and ruins your life. That “don’t go to bed angry” advice was actually God’s idea. He tells us to let go of anger for our own protection. Why? Because when we hold onto it and refuse to forgive, it destroys our health and our relationships.
Letting go of anger and forgiving a person who hurt you is probably one of the hardest things you will ever do. It takes a deliberate act of your will and a heap of God’s help.
Drivers must talk to pit reporters when they’re riled up after on-track incidents. Thankfully, you and I don’t have to share our frustration with NASCAR nation. Instead, we can discuss it with God privately in prayer.
Getting free from anger requires a double dose of forgiveness. First, tell God you’re hurt and ticked off about what happened. It’s OK to yell or cry, if that helps you pour out your frustration. Ask God to forgive you for clinging to bitterness and resentment.
Second, ask God to help you forgive the other person and let the anger go.
Laying down your load of anger releases you from the heavy burden of unforgiveness. It feels incredibly freeing and will bring blessings to your life. Forget throwing your helmet - throw away your anger instead.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. ~ Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)
Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 or more to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.
“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every first and third Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth also writes “Gibbs Garage,” Sprint Cup race recaps for Joe Gibbs Racing teams. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the frontstretch!