A few mornings ago, I read a story from the book of Numbers in the Bible and saw something I hadn't noticed before. After Moses leads the people out of Egypt, his sister, Miriam, and his brother, Aaron, start grumbling to others about Moses because he married a woman who isn't an Israelite.
When the two siblings complain to God, however, they don't mention that fact. Instead, they ask, "Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn't he spoken through us too?" (Exodus 12:1).
As I read, I saw two things. First, they're upset because he married outside their culture. Second, they cry out, "Is our brother the only one to whom God speaks?"
That is, they don't face the real issue—their anger toward their brother. They disguise it and take what probably appears a safe way. "We're leaders. We deserve respect just as much as Moses."
It reminds me of the many times we can't face what truly angers us so we disguise it (unconsciously) and it erupts in a safer place. My father-in-law was an admired man at his job, at the church, and in his community. But when he was home, his wife heard all his groanings and complaints.
Why at home? Possibly because his wife was a safe place for him to vent. It wouldn't hurt his reputation. He wouldn't have to stand up and face the people he resented.
You get the idea. We all do it.
In 2008, I became enraged over a situation and conveniently vented among a small group. Ben said, "Why are you spewing out your anger here? We're not your target."
That was a powerful insight for me. From that, I wrote this maxim: I'm seldom angry about what I think I'm angry about.
Since then, when I become upset, I try to dig out the real reason for my anger. You might try it too.