The Angry Fracture
Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. Let my soul come not into their council; O my glory, be not joined to their company. For in their anger they killed men . . . Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! Genesis 49:5-7
I still spend part of my week in Urgent Care, where I frequently take care of orthopedic injuries. One of the common fracture patterns I see is called a Boxer’s Fracture of the hand, but it should be called the Angry Fracture. Whenever I see this fracture, I can be 95% sure that it happened when an angry patient struck a wall with a closed fist. Often, the patient will report that they simply fell. That’s not how this fracture usually happens though and so, I usually ask – Did you punch a wall?
I’ve never broken my hand punching a wall, but I understand anger. I know that when I get angry, I’m completely unreasonable. Anger is like a drug that overthrows my mind, overruling all logic and sense. In my anger, I want to break something or lash out at anyone nearby. If I’ve got my phone in my hand, for some bizarre reason, I want to smash the phone. If I’m interacting with others, I want to say terrible things. Now I’ve never actually punched a wall or smashed my phone, but I do however, have relationships that bear the scars of my angry words. In my anger, I’ve said things I didn’t mean and that I wish I could take back.
Anger is a drug and under its influence, we break things, sometimes doing permanent damage, a reality that was illustrated in today’s passage. In the story, Jacob was on his deathbed, when he gathered his sons for a final blessing, or in this case, a curse. When he got to Simeon and Levi, he recalled their murderous rage. Years prior, incensed by the sexual assault of their sister, the two brothers went on a rampage, killing all the men in the rapist’s village. We’re not told if the brothers were penitent, but their transgression couldn’t be undone. They’d killed innocent men and Jacob remembered, cursing their anger.
Most of us haven’t killed anyone or fractured our hand in anger. Most of us have however, hurt others while intoxicated by our rage. Make no mistake. Anger is a drug, and when we indulge in it, we break things – sometimes permanently. Anger is an emotional response that we can’t necessarily prevent, but we alone are responsible for our reaction to it. When angered, we can indulge in our impulsive nature, destroying things. Or we can learn to stop, breath, pray, and give our anger to God, asking that he use our anger to teach us his love, patience, and mercy.