Learning from Life: Slow to Anger

A recent event in Virginia has caught the attention of many, and these people are finding themselves angry. According to news sources, read the article here, a mixed raced family has been the center of an uncomfortable situation. The father, a Caucasian man and husband to a African American woman, had gone to a local Walmart to cash a check with the couples three young daughters. Since the three children come from a multiracial set of parents, they don’t share the same skin tone with their father. When this father arrived home from the trip, he finds out he has been followed by local police who were asked to look into the family’s situation as a possible kidnapping. Clearly, this would be very frustrating to a family who has apparently seen their share of issues arising from their mixed race marriage. Before you join the many who find themselves “outraged” at this story, please take a moment to consider a few things.

1. We can understand the families hurt and disappointment without becoming angry ourselves. Racism is absolutely wrong and very sad. This situation may very well have been a result of racism, but at the moment, only the Lord knows what was at the heart of the one who raised their concern. With this in mind, the family has a right to feel insulted because of the real possibility of such motives for this incident. However, this still remains just a possibility of the true motive for reporting this situation. Since we may not ever know the motives of the initial suspecting person, it is of no use for a reader to get angry. Racism is absolutely hurtful when you find yourself affected by it, but getting angry when we cannot know a person’s motives only creates tension and frustration. We could equally hurt and offend an honest, good intentioned person by accusing them of being racist.

2. What if there really was an issue? We live in a day and age where we urge people regularly to keep their eyes open for anything that is suspicious, especially when we are talking about children. Children are abducted by people regardless of race, are they not? I agree that our culture needs to make more progress on understanding that a family can take shape in ways that can cross racial boundaries. However, even with this said, would we be just as upset if someone saw the same thing but the children WERE abducted and the person said nothing? Since crime is not racist, isn’t it fair to at least accept the possibility that good intentions were ininvolved? If this is true, it should be saddening that crime occurs and that our culture is so often rocked by it that even situations as innocent as this family outing to Walmart has people on edge.

3. How would you have approached the situation? My wife and I discussed this story last night and while we immediately responded to the frustration and hurt that such circumstances created, we had to spend some time thinking about how we would have reacted.  Since I was raised in New Jersey, this family make up was one I saw during my younger years several times. But what would I do if my gut was telling me something was wrong? Keep in mind that whoever reported the situation only had a short time to consider what they should do. It took me a few minutes to think about how I could casually approach the man and observe the children’s interaction with him. While many of us would not even come close to thinking such a family make-up as suspicious, there may very well be a time in someone’s life where their acceptance of this situation proves wrong and the children are in danger.

So while the family is right to respond with resentment and hurt, does this need to be the reaction of us all? I think at the very least though, we can see that a good intentioned person could have appropriately handled this situation. I’m not expecting the family to like what happened to them, as that would be very insensitive on my part, but getting angry shows a similar narrow-mindedness that a racist individual acts with.

As I thought more on the situation today, God kept reminding me of the passage in James 1 where God’s people are urged to be slow to anger. Anger is the easy response because we agree that the family is rightfully upset. However, if we just get angry and do not think, we ignore all the common sense God gives us through our daily life. As a Christian who has personally needed the Lord’s help to combat how quickly I became angry, I know that much of my ability to convey truth was lost in the anger I displayed. This is a truth in life that I am still learning to apply in some areas. It is possible, though, that there could be a similar instance of such a scene being God’s way of providing help for abducted children.

I am very glad that this event is just a mistake, and even possibly an offensive mistake. With that said, I should also say that someone may have been doing a much needed good deed in our society. So while feelings were fairly hurt, please take this as a chance to see that a quick response of anger just may not be the best reaction.

Written by Timothy Hegerich / Edited by Caroline Hegerich

There is truth in our world, and it lies within the word of the One who created the world.  It is my prayer that my thoughts and writings echo this truth and inspire you to seek it for your life today!


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