Editor’s note: Today's article is the eighth in a series about "fine line" areas of our lives. Areas where we struggle to discern truth from sin. Areas we prefer not to deal with so that we can continue living on the edge, where the "fine line" is. Click here to read about Happiness vs. Joy, Judging vs. Accountability, Loneliness vs. Alone-ness, Gossip vs. Venting, Lust vs. Love, Doubt vs. Questioning, and Worry vs. Concern.

"You ALMOST killed me and my baby! Don't YOU know what you did? How DARE you, lady? You are crazy, CRAZY!!!! "

Well, these were just a few brief statements from a lady who thought I had cut her off in traffic… when in fact she had cut me off. I watched her stop her car, engine running, child inside, door wide open, and walk over to my car. She was screaming like a lunatic, barely making any sense. I kept asking her to calm down:

“You have me mixed up with someone else, you actually cut me off in your anger. Ma’am, ma’am, do you really want your daughter to see your behavior right now? Do you really want the world to see your behavior? Ma’am, calm down.”

As she drove off I could feel that my blood pressure had raised, my heart was pounding, and my mind was swirling. I was so proud of myself! She had road rage and I had none. She lost it and I kept my cool. She made a fool of herself and risked the life of her child by leaving her car running and unattended. I was able to talk quietly and firmly without responding back in a defensive and angry manner. So, great, I have come a long way. But what also hit me was that I could have been her. I have been in her shoes. I have felt violated, harmed, attacked, accused, cut off, and stolen from, whether it was all in truth or what I thought was truth. And even though, in your deepest desires you hope to act like Christ and only get angry when it's the right time, your flesh is weak. I have made a fool out of myself many times. Yes, I am better than I was because of Christ but each circumstance the Lord allows me to go through only test me, grows me and matures me.

So how do you know when it's ok to be angry? I mean, this woman felt, due to having her child in her car, she had a right to verbally attack someone she thought had almost harmed her. Is anger ok as long as you believe it was out of truth? And what about people who frustrate you in general, such as your neighbor, work mate, or those you live with you? Maybe they haven't done anything big like damage your car or cause you harm. Maybe they have a barking dog, they don't pick up their clothes, they're in a bad mood in the morning, or they talk too much in meetings. When is anger good... and when can it cause more problems? We must first start with the source.

SOURCE OF ANGER:

I have found over the years that 9 times out 10 my anger (from my sudden outburst to my times of anger, frustration, and irritation) stems from some underlying issue. Yes, it’s so easy to get mad at family (and expect full forgiveness). It's so easy to talk about workmates/your boss to others (that's gossip). It's easy to avoid a neighbor or call the police about their dog, but if you take the time to really peel back the layers of how you are feeling, you will begin to see what the source of the anger truly is. This source will lead to a solution. You will be able to discern righteous anger from unrighteous. And then you will know the next step.