Lisa M. Hendey ponders the wisdom in a movie quote about the impact of anger.
For the past few days, I’ve been enjoying some family time with my sister, brother-in-law, and nephews. It’s a change of pace to come to the Midwest and not immediately rush to a nursing home to see one of my parents. With Daddy’s funeral and our parents’ cemetery interment still a few weeks away, they remain so close in our thoughts and hearts.
Lately, as I emerge from the emotional fog that’s plagued me for the past several months, I’ve begun again trying to commit to memory phrases around me that catch my attention. I think all writers do this. We can’t help ourselves. A turn of phrase can bring me to tears, throw me into a sea of envy (why can’t I write like that?), or cause my heart to swell with joy. I experienced this in late March while taking a brief break from Daddy’s hospice bedside when I passed a quote in the hallway of his nursing facility that read,
Never regret anything that made you smile.Mark Twain
Daddy was always a big Mark Twain fan, and yet somehow I’d never heard that particular bit of wisdom. It’s hung with me in the days since I read it on that wall. Not convinced yet of its correctness, I’m turning Twain’s words over and over in my mind like broken shards of pottery: pretty, yet incomplete in some way.
I had my latest “quote sighting” yesterday while watching the film Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. My nephew Tyler, whose knowledge of all things Harry Potter is encyclopedic, did a good enough job of providing me with a Reader’s Digest synopsis of the first two installments of the Potter prequel series en route to the theaters so that I’d know that Albus Dumbledore was the good guy and Gellert Grindelwald was the villain. But a lot of the plot was lost on me until I got home and did some reading and then watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them last night. In the theater, not much of what I saw made sense. But I liked it. Tyler’s non-stop analysis of both films in the hours since is helping the pieces to come together. And one particular line from the bad guy still has me thinking:
When we allow ourselves to be consumed by anger, the only victim is ourselves.Gellert Grindelwald, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
Setting aside that this wisdom came from such a dark source, I can’t stop thinking about how true the line is. In my book The Grace of Yes, I wrote about the need for forgiveness in a similar tone, explaining that when I hold a grudge or withheld mercy, the person I most hurt is myself.
When I think about the last few times I was “angry” at someone (or my version of angry), I realize that it’s likely that the target of my “anger” really didn’t even know I was upset. I didn’t use my words with them, explaining to them how I felt. I didn’t seek reconciliation or common mutuality or even acknowledge that I was upset. I just festered in my feelings, letting them eat away at me and spew out in bad ways on innocents around me who really had no idea why I was out of sorts.
Grindelwald’s philosophizing sent me searching for some additional primers for how to deal with the anger that sometimes seeps into my psyche. I found the following:
Get mad. Then get over it.Colin Powell
When angry count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.Thomas Jefferson
Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.Thomas à Kempis
None of these or the countless otherwise sayings I read this morning say that we’re never supposed to become angry. Anger, like sadness or fear or curiosity, is a part of the human experience. It’s what I do with my anger that makes a difference. Even as an almost 59-year-old woman, I’m still learning to meet my heart where it is, hear what it is telling me, and move forward from that emotion toward wholeness and healing.
The next time I feel consumed by anger, I hope to consciously realize sooner rather than later that I do not want to be a victim of anything. Thank you, Grindelwald.
p.s. If I’ve made you angry, I apologize with all my heart.
A question for you: What helps you move along when you feel angry?
Copyright 2022 Lisa M. Hendey
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About the Author
Lisa M. Hendey is the founder of CatholicMom.com, a bestselling author and an international speaker. A frequent radio and television guest, Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and communications. Visit Lisa at LisaHendey.com or on social media @LisaHendey for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish, school or organization. Visit Lisa's author page on Amazon.com.