Most of the truly awful mistakes I’ve made in my life, I’ve made because I was angry. Whether the mistake involved cutting words or poor judgment or reckless behavior, the root cause was anger. I work hard every day to keep my temper in check, but my success rate is much lower than I would like.

Driving home from work the other day, I realized my teeth were still clenched over something that had happened two hours earlier. My hands gripped the steering wheel like it was a precious metal I didn’t want to lose. My neck felt like it was carved from marble. The anger I was struggling with was literally painful. When I pulled into the driveway, I realized I couldn’t go into the house like that and infect my family. Anger does beget anger: My sharp word provokes an angry response in someone else, who turns that anger on someone else, and anger spreads like a lethal virus. And Satan rejoices.

Anger blinds us to what is right, proper, and fair. It drives us to return hurt for hurt, rather than seeking solutions and reconciliation. In our rage, we hurt ourselves and we hurt others. Those wounds don’t go away quickly, either: They linger and sometimes, they take root. The Lord asks us to turn away from anger and to take the more excellent way – to treat each other with love and respect.

God offers us the opportunity to release our anger safely, by turning over to Him whatever provokes us. Quiet time with Him, in prayer and contemplation, helps us discover what is truly paining us and how we can handle that constructively. With the Lord’s comfort and guidance, we cannot only rid ourselves of the heavy toll of anger, but we can give those around us the gift of peace. That peace permits them to look at us in love; being greeted in love, our hearts will also grow lighter.

Give up anger: Give peace.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20