“Angry? Where ever did you get that idea? No, I don’t get angry…I get even!” He stopped speaking and looked me full in the face, as if to say, “There, I am throwing down the gauntlet! Confront me if you dare!” Eyes, burning with the intensity of two small, smoldering pieces of coal measured me, sizing up my mettle. Facial features chiseled as if in stone, and yet transparent as a sculpted piece of ice, revealed an equally hardened heart. I observed this proud man in the winter season of his life who sat before me. Client faced counselor. I noticed that his hands, although clenched, were slightly shaking. I thought, “Why is this man here? He must be seeking something…He speaks of vengeance. But, why seek a counselor?” And then I thought, “this man is afraid…but of what? Perhaps he fears dying and some angst compels him to resolve the conflict within him. Why is it that unfinished business so often courts the passage of time?”
I met the old man’s gaze and willed my eyes to soften and my face to offer encouragement. Then I silently prayed, “Father, give me the wisdom to speak into this man’s heart and be his paraclete.” Moved with compassion, I edged my chair closer, offering an unspoken invitation to confide. He wore a formidable mask splayed across his face that belied his inward suffering. God’s Spirit compelled me to speak. “Is it a very old sadness I see behind your eyes? Do I detect hopelessness in the droop of your shoulders? Perhaps it is unforgiveness your hands seem to be holding to, so tightly. Did you know that emotional pain turned inward becomes the enemy of a man’s soul? It causes some to howl in anger and others to sink deeply into despair. Which of these foes are you fighting, my friend?”
As I spoke, the old man’s face was slowly transformed by his pain. I heard him softly say, “both, I guess.” Tears pooled in his eyes and coursed slowly across his cheeks. A deep moan passed between his lips. He spoke to me of hurt that he had been carrying for many years. I told him of a Savior who would never leave or forsake him. The old man cradled his face in his hands and wept for some time. He softly murmured as he took care of the unfinished business in his life. When next he raised his head, I saw the face of a man who has made his peace with God. He rose, shook my hand, and looked at me, one last time. I remember being struck by the startling transformation in his eyes. Like the azure blue of a spring morning just after the rain, they had been washed clean by his tears. He smiled, turned, and walked out the door. Seconds later the old man stepped from the curb into the oncoming path of a speeding vehicle, and entered eternity. He took nothing with him, except, of course, his clean heart. But of all the things he left behind, anger was not one of them.