Anger. What a dirty little word. It often brings up shame, memories of times and places, hurts and all sorts of other things.What do we do with it? I will admit, anger is where I go first. I hate that about myself and admire women who take everything in stride never seeming to be bothered.
Recently though, while chatting with a few good friends, I discovered that some cultures tend to be more angry than others. Wouldn’t you know that my family’s heritage is one of them! Ha. Well isn’t that ironic and just lovely. But it caused me to take a deeper look into anger.
From experience, I can say that anger is an awesome motivator and source of strength. My anger made a fighter out of me. I have fought to carve out my own life, break free from my past, find out what is going on with my oldest son and how to help him.
I can also say from experience, though, that anger is destructive- stirring up dissension and separating people. I have watched anger fuel family feuds and tear siblings apart, dissolving people to fearful hurt tears. Often, anger is more ugly than it is helpful.
So what do we do with it? And how are we to handle it? Those really are the questions.
The Bible gives some helpful advice in handling anger:
Be slow to speak. (James 1:19)
Respond with a soft answer. (Proverbs 15:1)
Do not let the sun go down on your anger. (Ephesians 4:26)
Search your heart and be silent. (Psalm 4:4)
I think Psalm 4:4 is my favorite one.
When you are angry, take a good long look inside! That’s how to not sin when you are angry. Could it be that we have more to do with our anger than outside influences? I had to think about that one for a minute. I guess my anger is usually a reaction to something I didn’t like or felt was done wrong to me. I am challenged to stop taking everything so personally. Besides, my God is way bigger than the people and problems around me.
Even when he was tried, convicted and crucified, Jesus never showed anger. He was slow to anger and responded with a soft answer.
Since Christians are called to grow and be more Christ-like, this is one area that needs to be brought under control. Scripture teaches, also, that a virtuous woman has a gentle and quiet spirit and that doesn’t coincide with an angry one.
So where does that leave us?
It leaves us at the foot of the cross. Since Christ is my savior, I am no longer bound by sin and now have a choice as to how I react. It is not easy, though and will be a journey of prayer, faith and leaning on the Lord to deliver me in those times when it would feel so good and comfortable to react in the way that comes naturally.
My first prayer will be for Him to pause my reaction a minute so that I can make the choice- for an awareness before reaction. Then in that moment of awareness I will need to pray through the impulse.
I am reminded of the Footprints poem. It is in these tender moments of journey that there are only one set of footprints in the sand.
So who’s with me? Are you willing to let Jesus carry you through this part of your life and set you down changed, safe and ready to walk on your own again?