Doubt turns into confusion turns into despair turns into fear turns into resentment turns into pride turns into anger turns into rage. Muddled emotions masking the Way.
Hurting people hurt people. I know it’s true, and I hate it. I hate the way it hurts to be on the receiving end of someone else’s lash-out. I hate when I have unleashed tantrums only to turn around and see the pain, confusion and disappointment in the eyes of my beloveds.
Sticks and stones may break my bones and names will definitely hurt me. The words we spit out at each other leave bruises and gashes on our souls. Even after the apology, even after “I really didn’t mean it. I was just angry,” it still hurts. And even after forgiveness there is the process of tending to our pains and attempting to peel back the walls that we throw up to protect ourselves in the heated moment.
Yes I forgive you. Yes I will hug you. But give me a minute before I feel like laughing with you again.
Truly being angry is not a sin, but what’s bad is when we misuse our anger and allow ourselves to be out of control – rude, thoughtless and harsh. Jesus taught me “In your anger, do not sin.” So where do we draw the line between good anger and sinful anger. I believe it lies in our hearts. What is our motive? Are we relying on Christ to lead us through this anger with a pure heart? If not we are setting ourselves up for a nasty time.
Lashing out in anger is distrust in God. If we truly trusted in him we would remember that He knows best, that if we hold-back and wait on Him, he can work things out in a way that is peaceful. Fearing that we are left alone to fend for ourselves we viciously let loose on those we love. A sense of entitlement comes into play though too, doesn’t it? I feel I have the right to “vent” my feelings. But is that Biblical? Proverbs 19 tells me that it is to my glory to overlook an offense. Yes we should be able to share our feelings if we feel the need so long as we are careful about the spirit in which they are shared. The one called wise was he who holds his tongue – not he who can get the last word in…
Sinking into Christ, I read His words for more answers:
Parts of Colossians 3:1-17: Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God…
So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires… You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language…Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him… Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
It all boils down to being raised to a new life in Christ, embracing a new way of living and a new way of communicating. I’m always a work in progress in this area. We must truly be putting to death our old ways through practice, accountability, and installing new good habits to replace the bad. We embrace our new life in Christ when we notice that red-hot anger boiling up within us and we choose not to give in to it. We choose instead a moment to breathe, to get away for a minute and pray. We tell God why we’re angry. And when we can’t get alone, we close our eyes and block out everything else except Grace and Truth and Christ.
In the precious ten seconds after something angers us we can choose to let loose and let rage take over, or we can choose peace. It’s amazing what ten seconds of meditating on God will do to cool a temper. Lord help me to slow down and cool down before addressing an angering situation.
Even better is the preemptive move of approaching others as if they were Christ himself. When we consistently lift up in prayer those who push our button’s, we end up being so filled with love for them that rudeness and bitterness are defeated. Sounds too good to be true, but I have specific examples of this working in my life.
Finally, we must forgive – ourselves and others. The power of forgiveness is huge. I could write for a day on just the health benefits of forgiveness… but I won’t. I will just say that it is a key element in moving out of anger and towards joy.
I’m writing all of this for me, you see.
I need to practice all of this. These things I know in my head, but don’t always live out… I need them to stick with me now. I acknowledge my complete inability to be successful in this in my own strength. I need to sit back and trust in God – allowing him to lead me through these things I already know. Even when it’s not what I want and it doesn’t feel good.
Trust turns into peace turns into understanding turns into patience turns into forgiveness turns to restoration turns into joy.