Jason Block has, in my comments, accused me of dangerous behavior. You ain’t seen dangerous yet. 🙂
To continue on, what you are doing is incredibly dangerous on three levels. You stated, “I know that as a Christian, I’m ORDERED to forgive.”
Please do not take this as an attack on your faith, but the consequences of bottling up anger.
a) Studies have shown that not letting out anger has led to higher blood pressure, stroke, and stress levels.
b) It is perfectly ok to lash out in anger. In fact, the situation described would be the perfect example of where anger would be not only ok, but a GOOD thing. She should have been fired, because she threatened Kiddo #2. She put Kiddo #2 in danger. Doesn’t that make you mad?
c) Feelings, as stated by Ivy and others, are not things you can turn off like a light bulb. What are you afraid of? Are you worried that you are showing a bad example to Kiddo #1? It is OK to be angry. What can’t you see about that?
Firstly, I never said I was bottling up anger. The purpose of forgiveness is releasing anger, getting it out of your system, and clearing your head to act. That way, when you act, it’s calculated and effective. Acting in the heat of anger is often ineffective, over-strong, and counterproductive.
I would also argue that lashing out in anger perpetuates the existence of the thing that made you angry in the first place.
Let’s set up some definitions. Anger we’ll define as “the physical and psychological reaction to having one’s boundaries violated or one’s person harmed.” Forgiveness we’ll define as “the process of ceasing to feel resentment, indignation or anger against another person for a perceived offense.” And finally, we’ll define a term that hasn’t come up yet in this debate, reconciliation: “ceasing demands for restitution and resumption of the previous relationship.”
With that established, let’s look at Jason’s accusations:
a) not letting out anger has bad health consequences. I absolutely agree, and if you’ll notice, the specific purpose of keeping me awake that night was for me to release my anger before going to sleep. Since forgiveness consists in large part of releasing one’s anger toward one’s aggressor, forgiveness should be good for your physical health (as well as one’s spiritual health for Christians, who as I said before are ordered to forgive and to ask forgiveness.)
b) It is perfectly ok to lash out in anger. Sorry, can’t agree. In this particular circumstance, we have a mentally challenged maintenance worker who was following the orders she was given by her supervisor. Lashing out at her would have made her confused, sad, and scared.
The level where things needed to be changed was at her supervisor’s level, where orders needed to be given to lock the entrance rather than the exit, or check the restrooms for occupants before locking the exit.
The maintenance worker was in no doubt that I was angry, and she herself was frightened by what had happened. If I’d threatened her (and trust me, I dearly wanted to tell her that if she’d left my daughter there, I’d have hunted her down and killed her) she would have concentrated on my threat and not spoken to her superiors, not changed her behavior, and might have quit, opening the position for someone else who would then not check the restrooms for occupants before locking them.
In sum: I’d have harmed someone who didn’t understand she’d done wrong, with no malice, and perpetuated the broken system.
c) Feelings are not things you can turn off like a light bulb. What are you afraid of? I’m afraid of becoming the kind of hardened person who would threaten to hunt down and kill a mentally challenged janitor who had made a mistake after following badly-written orders. And as I stated in the first post, I had to work hard to separate the anger from my need to take action.
Here’s the deal: forgiveness and reconciliation are separate things. I never said that I would not take action to change the defective system that could have harmed my daughter. In fact, I’ve written a very clear, very stern, and very surgically-suggestive letter to the person who’s in charge of that particular beach. In that letter, I laid out the situation, explained the consequences of not changing their procedure, and suggested a different procedure which would safeguard other children and not violate fire codes. I will follow up if I haven’t heard back in a reasonable timeframe.
Reconciliation would mean I took no action after forgiveness. I would say to myself, “The situation is upsetting, but that’s okay.” Forced reconciliation would be dangerous because it would allow an unsafe situation to continue. But I’m not reconciled to this.
You can forgive without reconciling, in other words. You can say, “I’m no longer angry about this situation, but I also choose not to put myself in it any longer, and I will make sure it does not continue to be harmful to others.”
Forgiveness is seeing the human heart of the person who harmed you, recognizing that the person is not a monster, and connecting your own brokenness to theirs. It fosters understanding. And it makes you clear-headed enough to act effectively when you do act.
I fail to find that dangerous.