I am a people watcher. In fact, I could spend hours at Starbucks just watching the people. There are so many types of personalities that frequent the coffee chain that there is never a dull moment. It’s entertainment in its pure form; all for the price of a tall latte.
A few weeks ago I changed up my routine and actually stepped inside the store. The drive-thru line was wrapped around the building, and I was in no mood to wait hours upon end for a 12-oz cup of joe. As I stood in line, I couldn’t help but watch the lady standing to the right of me.
Bitter was written across her face.
She could have been only about thirty, but she looked seventy-five. Shoulders hunched over, face drawn, and eyes narrowed, her body language screamed anger. Anger at the barista for messing up her “black coffee”. Anger at the people in the store who dared to smile at her. Anger at the situation. And-quite possibly- anger at herself.
This was one angry lady.
As I watched her finally walk out the door with her “improved” cup, I wondered what brought on all that anger. What happened to her to make her that way? Did her husband die? Did she grow up with a dysfunctional family? Did life just bear down on her, raining down showers of tragedy without a reprieve in the clouds?
And then I thought of my life. I thought of the anger within my heart that seems to rise up at the most inopportune times. I thought about its methodical beat in my life, underscoring so many situations, conversations and behaviors. I thought about the times in my life when my face didn’t look much different than the lady with the black coffee.
The thing about anger is that, if left unattended, it festers. When you bury it, deny it, and push it further down into your heart, it grabs onto the root and blossoms. The branches spread from your heart to your hands. Its features are written across your face. Life grows around the trunk, piling on stress, worry, and fear, until the bark is nothing but hard, cold stone.
Anger transforms. It transforms the look on your face. It transforms the way you stand. It transforms anything and everything in your life. When you let it take root, it transforms the beautiful tree into a dead, rotten hunk of wood.
Anger is not beauty. A face of stone is not an appealing feature. A body burdened by the emotions and stresses of life does not radiate true beauty. Anger stifles the growth of anything beautiful.
It’s easy to give way to anger, and it’s easy to bury it. I’ve been known to do both, but I’m here to tell you- neither method works. Acting in anger only paints ugliness. Stifling it only sets the undercurrent of destruction going. Acknowledging it, dealing with it, and moving on is what protects beauty.
Today the challenge is to protect beauty. Protect it from the consequences of anger. Protect it from the burdens of life. Protect the true face of beauty so you will not be the lady in the coffee shop screaming over a cup of coffee.
Verse: “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.” (Psalm 68:19-20)