Anger: My Besetting Sin, Part 2 of 3

A Lenten self-examination

The roots of the acidic fruit of my chronic anger are found in the soil of my formative years’ experience of a household with a father bitterly angry at the denial of life-and-work opportunities because of his race and a mother whose quiet acceptance of life’s injustices presented no buffer for his frequent, indiscriminate, and, at times, alcohol-fueled ferocity.[1]

In this environment, I, conditioned by fear and hurt, as a defense, learned how to be (and to stay) angry. I grew into an adult who was hyper-sensitive to slights, at times, real and, at other times, lacking the surety of trust in others or the world, imagined.

Two of my long-time self-descriptions: “When one is hurt first and worst by those who are supposed to love him first and best, confidence in others is a dubious commodity” and “I have an elephantine memory for any and all affronts, coupled with a grudge-bearing spirit.”

Thus, small was my capacity for forgiveness. So, too, my circle of friends.

Over time, I continue to come to a different place.

To be continued…

© 2023 PRA

[1] I previously wrote of this familial, parental dynamic in For Black History Month – A Last(ing) Personal Reflection, Of those who have influenced me most, who more than William John Abernathy (1911-1996) and Clara Lolita Roberts Abernathy (1915-2015), February 17, 2023

2 thoughts on “Anger: My Besetting Sin, Part 2 of 3

  1. Thank you Paul! Though I knew the story of your childhood and the pain you felt because of it, reading it again now brings a deeper understanding for me! I will forever say, along with others, that the class we taught on forgiveness together was a gift to last a lifetime!



  2. Loretta, I harbor the fondest memories of the Forgiveness Class; most especially, the sanctified time we spent in the preparation and facilitation of that most poignant engagement in one of life’s greatest challenges (granting pardon to those who wound us and to ourselves for the wounding we have done).

    There is much I would say to/share with you about that experience and more. For my ongoing reflections of that and our time grant me the grace of continued thought and feeling.

    As for my childhood, I, as I trust we all, continue to process my experience. As I age, I continue to come to deeper understandings of all that happened, some good, some bad (and all that did not happen, some good, some bad). I love my parents. I have forgiven my parents, repeatedly. Hence, I have come to a place of being able to name and claim what hurt (and still hurts, from time to time) without denigrating or defaming them for what they sought to do, which, I believe, was with the noblest of intentions.


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