2361057568_00795a66e6_oI don’t often find myself asked a question which I can’t answer, but I really didn’t know what I thought when Tanya asked:

“Looking at your papers now, would you have put yourself through?”

The papers in question were all the forms and reports from my selection and training for ordination, stretching back fourteen years and now neatly bound and filed away in my study. When I received two sets of application forms from ordination candidates who I’m working with, something prompted me to get out my own reports and this prompted Tanya to ask me the question.

The question stumped me because I’m sure I’m in the right job and it was right for me to be ordained into the Church of England, but it was only the seven years of theological college and curacy that allowed me to iron out those issues which, at the time of my selection, nearly put an end to the process.

One thing which the assessors thought might be a problem (or an indicator of a deeper issue) was that I’d written on some form or other that I didn’t really get angry. This translated into the following line in my selection conference report:

“Jon was unable to provide any evidence of how he would deal with anger.”

Eleven years on from that report I still don’t get angry. By which I mean I don’t lose my temper and shout when people upset me or I don’t get my way. I can control myself in heated meetings and debates and I can show immense patience with difficult or obtuse people. I don’t even write forthright letters of complaint or reply in haste to tweets and I certainly try to avoid replying in kind to moaning e-mails.

What I’m coming to realise is that maybe the report was right.

I don’t know how to deal with anger because I’m not getting angry when I should be. And that anger has to come out somewhere.

I don’t know how to deal with anger because I get angry about stupid stuff. Like when my neighbours won’t park in their own drive or when people use Sellotape on painted surfaces in the church hall or when motorists abuse disabled parking bays or when I’m subjected to bad PowerPoint.

I don’t know how to deal with anger because my anger is in the wrong place. So I’ll let stupid stuff upset me instead of doing something about the things that should make me angry. 

Things like when my MP voted against an investigation into the causes of the rising need for food banks or when I find myself in Child Protection meetings when I’m the only one (of the 20+ social workers, teachers and police) around the table offering any support to the parents. Or when I read about how disability benefit claimants are treated by the private company who run assessment centres or when I see magazines and newspapers which objectify women and excuse violence and abuse or when my hairdresser tells me about city centre shops forced to close because of the greed and lack of compassion of the management company.

These are all the result of public policy, government outsourcing (local and national), unrealistic targets, companies putting profit before people and public office-holders putting personal interest before the needs of those they purport to represent. As one of those represented people, I’m going to start by making my voice heard and calling elected representatives to account. In 2014 I’m going to deal with anger. I’m going to do it by getting angry. Angry at the right things. I’ve even got myself some nice new printer paper, because well written polite letters are so much more effective.


2 thoughts on “Resolution

  1. Jon,
    I would fall into the same category as you in regards to anger. I control my emotions well and rare is the occasion anyone knows I am angry outside my family. I do agree that if one see injustice one should not ignore it if one has the power to step in the gap and do something. I have a long history of writing letters and stepping in to take up for the underdog sometimes to my detriment. I have decided that I am ok with that and not ok with the guy(myself) who has a chance to step in a gap and does not.

  2. Hi, I can identify with this issue. The family refer to me as Ms Placid and I know that I often annoy other people by not getting heated about the same things they do. Strangely enough when I joined the Civil Service in1976.( Now there’s a giveaway!) I was trained in restraint and how to identify triggers to defuse situations and I found this easier than my colleagues due to my nature. Your own characteristics allow you to deal with the very difficult situations that are presented to you and this is a strength. Anger has to be released as it is unhealthy not to but it is channelling the anger into a needed cause which is not always so easy. I have to say that I am not so placid in that I cannot stand injustice and often have my head above the parapet which is not always a good place to be. Sometimes intervention is successful and sometimes frustratingly not. However, heading towards fossilisation!! I have learnt that to have at least having raised burning issues brings some reward in that I tell myself I tried and faith does help with this too.
    I think what I could have said in less words is that you have a strength to build on which you have recognised is there.
    Enjoy your well earned Sabbatical.

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