Anger is an invisible fire! We see the outward expressions of anger, but the fire is on the inside. Just the other day I was sitting at a red light. The person beside me was looking down, probably at their phone, and didn’t see the light turn green. The person behind them went “NUTS!” They were honking the horn, throwing the middle finger, rolling down the window and screaming as they zoomed past the slow car. I pulled into Publix’s parking lot and watched another person turn in front of someone and take their spot. An altercation of verbal exchanges took place. Then, in the afternoon, I witnessed the impatience and anger of a younger (mid-twenties) girl with an elderly person who was attempting to write a check in line at Chick-Fil-A! By the time I got home from my day of errands all I had witnessed was anger and impatience the whole day.
We see anger more and more in this generation. It seems to be growing. People seem to wake up angry. I have gotten to the point that I have a hard time watching some news shows because they try to “interrupt and out yell the person who is trying to make their point”! Maybe TV is the big influence communicating the message that it is ok to yell, scream and interrupt to make your point. To me, it is a growing problem and people do not really realize it, or better yet, they don’t care.
Anger, like fire, is a dangerous thing! In Proverbs 17:12 it says, “It is better to meet a mother bear robbed of her cubs than meet an ANGRY person.” To totally understand how bad that really is, we all might need to meet up with a bear who has actually lost her cubs in the wild. The only time I have ever been close to a bear was when they were caged! The only time I have ever seen an angry bear was on TV or in a movie. Sometimes because we don’t live in the wild as much as once was common, I think we just glaze over analogies the Bible makes on certain things like ANGER!
What the Bible is saying in the Proverbs passage is that anger is a very, very dangerous and life threatening thing. Honestly, I have been angry enough in my life to melt steel! Seriously, I know the Bible is “spot on” to talk about a “MOTHER BEAR” robbed of her cubs, because when someone hurts my kids, with actions or words, LOOK OUT! It steams me from the inside out!! I have told people before that, in some ways, when it comes to my children, there is still an “invisible umbilical cord” attached! Can anyone relate??????? I do believe we mothers have that natural tendency in us put there by God for healthy reasons–to nurture and protect our young. But wow, do I have to allow God to work when our children get hurt!
Just last year I was passing through Clemson to visit with Thomas. He shared with me an incident with one of his professors. The professor was telling a story in class. The class had about 130 kids in it and Thomas happened to be on the front row. This professor singled Thomas out and said some very nasty things for absolutely no reason. He also made fun of Thomas’ physical appearance for no reason. It literally took me a week to get over it. It made me so mad. It also made me realize that if I had not been passing through and had lunch with Thomas, he probably would have never shared that story with me. After a couple of days I had to take a step back and ask myself, “Why am I still so angry?” It was because it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was living with unresolved anger over many things and I could sense the lack of peace in my spirit. A “smoldering fire”.
You see, in the last several years I have had all three of our children in college. I am UTTERLY AMAZED at the VERBAL ATTACKS they have encountered. All three have faced such attacks, not from classmates, but from adults. I have been shocked and dismayed at the name calling and “murder with words”. In Proverbs 29:11 it states, “A FOOL gives full vent to his anger, but a WISE man keeps himself under control.”
Now, I want to make it clear that I am not at all suggesting that any of our three kids are innocent beings and neither am I. That is why I went to see a Christian counselor. I realized I needed help in dealing with the anger I felt and how I responded to the anger of others. As a mature ADULT, I am shocked at the behavior of other, supposedly, “MATURE ADULTS” in leadership roles, and the language and verbal abuse encountered by kids! Even name calling! It is sickening on ALL LEVELS. There is no excuse for a WOMAN or a MAN to demonstrate this behavior. We all get angry but, at the very least, as mature adults we should all recognize our position and be willing—especially if we are leading kids—to humble ourselves and apologize and develop some “self control!” A real sign of a maturity! Just because you have always done things the same way and gotten away with it, doesn’t mean that it is right!
Going to Christian counseling has opened my eyes and heart as to how one should deal with anger. It has made me step back and see that anger causes murder. It wreaks havoc on many people. Angry words and actions leave dead bodies everywhere. First, I had to address it with myself, then under our own roof, and then appropriately deal with other people’s anger!
Here are a few things I have learned about anger:
1. You have to pray! Ask God for His help and the strength to deal with anger. We are not capable in our own strength to handle it.
2. Sometimes you have to confront anger. Give God your fear about confronting. Sometimes people’s hearts are so hard and calloused such that all you can do is pray.
3. Don’t own someone else’s anger! (THIS WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST LESSONS I LEARNED) Just because someone else is angry and in a terrible mood, doesn’t mean you have to own it! Understand that it is their problem, NOT YOURS. I have had to teach this to our kids as well. I think Thomas has come up with a good saying for this, “Nothing has meaning except the meaning I give it!” I love that!!!
4. The use of ANGER may be a short-term motivator to get a behavior change from someone, but the long-term effects of the anger that was used to change that behavior is NOT GOOD. Proverbs 25:15, “By forbearance a ruler may be persuaded, and a SOFT TONGUE breaks a bone.”
5. This fifth one is HUGE. Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. And do not give the devil a foothold.” I had to really look at this one. I was going to bed with unresolved anger over situations, not knowing what to do with the anger I felt over dealing with other people’s anger. (Satan had me, a foothold.) I learned to pray and read Scripture at night in order to be able to give to God my anger over other people’s anger. I realized I was owning other people’s anger! I was letting their anger make me angry! CRAZY, when I stepped back and looked at it!!! VERY UNHEALTHY! It is one of the most key pieces of advice I have ever been given!
6. I learned to “lower my expectations of certain people” who demonstrate over and over that they have major “anger issues”. It was their problem. I was not the only one that experienced it or saw it.
7. I have purposed to teach the things I am learning to our young adult children. I want to help them see that if they don’t develop healthy and Godly ways to deal with their anger and other people’s anger, then they can turn out to be IMMATURE ADULTS who behave the same way. It is not who they want to be. The only way to guarantee a healthy approach to anger is with a growing, personal relationship with Jesus.
8. In order for me to not stay angry, I had to learn that I was in control of myself with God’s help and my response. The best thing for me to do was draw near to God and He would draw near to me–go “DEEP” spiritually and allow God to develop more of the “fruits of the spirit”. Galatians 5:27, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control.” This developed fruit in anyone’s life keeps anger at bay and allows me or anyone to deal with other people’s anger appropriately.
Let me end with a final thought-anger not dealt with appropriately can kill and leave “emotionally dead bodies” everywhere, including your own!