Recently, I participated in a parish-sponsored session where the speaker made a comment that resonated with me.

He said, “Anger is a choice.”

I immediately wrote it down and thought to myself that I now had a new way to handle a situation where anger might be an option. I figured this lesson had now prepared me for all situations related to losing my cool.

I was wrong.

The Situation

Several days later, I led an all-day seminar that was going smoothly. Many of the participants thanked me for my service, and they showed genuine appreciation for the work my team had done. We prepared for nearly 6 weeks, and we felt confident that expectations would be met.

I was elated. The event was ending and only a few formalities remained before we closed the seminar.

Unbeknownst to me, one of the core team individuals had a surprise. He was going to present me with a small gift of appreciation. The item was neatly placed inside a gift bag, and my concentration was occupied with gently removing the engraved notebook from the bag.

At this point, the presenter made a comment I did not hear because I was busy with the gift. I heard laughter, and I remember asking …

What’s so funny?”

However, I did not have the microphone, so my question went unheard.

What Did I Miss?

As I prepared to leave the seminar, a friend approached me and said: “Did you hear what Steve said about you?”

I said, “No.”

He responded, “He said we were very appreciative you had led the seminar. You did a good job, but he also wanted to add that no one else had volunteered to lead the seminar so we were stuck with you.”

When I first heard those words, I chuckled. However, in just a few minutes, the emotion of anger took over my mental state.

After so many weeks of preparing, this was not very funny to me!

Anger is a Choice

After I made it home, with anger still building, I decided to reach out to a mentor who also attended the seminar. 

He said, “Jimmie, I can tell you that Steve never meant the comment in a negative way. You also must remember that his mistake is not your mistake.” 

The fact is that I was upset my service was devalued with just one comment made at the very end of the session. I do have the right not to be happy about what was said.

However, as my mentor noted, for me to live a healthy life, I must be bigger than this silly mistake. I cannot allow myself to fall into a trap where the inexcusable comments from other people dictate my behavior.

Love or Anger

Later that evening, I decided to let go of the anger I was feeling and attend a social with church friends. I remember the comfort I felt when one of our brothers said the meal prayer. I looked around and saw the many happy people who were ready to experience a beautiful meal and fellowship together.

The next three hours were filled with laughter and love.

There is no doubt I am glad I had chosen love over anger.