My hometown of Irvine has been all over the news today due to a rare murder and the manhunt for the suspect, Christopher Dorner. Irvine is consistently rated one of the safest cities in the nation, which makes this crime so alarming. But what is most alarming of all is that this man, a fired ex-LAPD police officer, wrote a vitriolic manifesto describing his rage and what he planned to do about it.
He is angry that he has been wronged, and he is out for revenge. He is out to kill.
We don’t know the full story, so I can’t be the judge here. I’ve read reports that he was depressed. Maybe by serving in the military, he suffers from PTSD. Maybe he has a history of mental illness. Nevertheless, from all the reports I’ve heard on the news so far, there is no doubt that he is very, very angry. Angry enough to murder a young engaged couple in Irvine and a police officer…so far.
Coincidentally (or not), we were studying anger in our Bible study just yesterday. This comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” (Matthew 5;21-22). Our study leader pointed out that in almost all cases of murder, anger is at the root of it.
I was also reminded of the verse in Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Well, I’m pretty certain that Chris Dorner let many, many suns go down on his anger while simmering and raging about the wrongs he suffered, perhaps over decades. I wouldn’t doubt it if he was rightfully angry about some of these things. But instead of letting go, he let them fester and fester until…
Although I have not experienced the level of anger Mr. Dorner was evidently harboring, I am convicted today about my own issues with holding onto anger. There were work-related conflicts that happened over 10 years ago that I’m still smarting over. I can think of friends who betrayed me when I was in high school. How I need to let go of them! I know exactly what the Scriptures is talking about when it says, “do not give the devil a foothold.” Anger can open the heart to much ugliness.
Sometimes, all attempts to work something out between me and the other party fails. Then, it’s up to me to forgive, let go, and move on. Although it’s not easy, it helps to keep in mind a couple of things:
1. People are people, and they are imperfect.
Give them grace when they slip up and transgress against us, because someday we will be transgressing against them, too. Maybe we should all lower our expectations on our boss, friend, spouse, parent, etc., because they are just as fallen and deprived as we are. One time, I was sharing about something hurtful which someone I (used to) respect said to me. Then someone casually said, “Maybe he didn’t really mean to hurt you.” Most of the time, I would have dismissed her comment as platitude, but somehow it dawned on me that day that my friend, thoughtless as he might have been, wasn’t out to purposely hurt my feelings. How liberating it was to realize that and how much easier it was to then forgive!
2. The easiest way to let go of our past anger is to stop thinking about it.
The brain has a wonderful way of disconnecting the synapses when you stop making that connection. I’ve actually completely forgotten about things I stopped remembering. Praise God that we have this wonderful ability! Sometimes, this ability pops up at the most inopportune moments, but let’s use it to our advantage!
I don’t know how this manhunt for Chris Dorner is going to end. But for now, I’m going to do my part to try to make my world a better place. And you?