Anger

Anger. What is anger? Merriam-Webster defines anger as a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism. 

Anger is also a basic human emotion, we all experience it to varying degrees and for different reasons. Some psychologist even say anger is related to the "fight, flight, or freeze" response of the sympathetic nervous system. Anger is literally something that physically happens in us. We feel it and it rises up in us and demands a response. An output. An expression. I have to "do" something about it. Something "physical" needs to happen, but that does not mean that "physical" action should be an act of violence, destruction or harm to someone or defacing physical structures. 

So how can you be angry without sinning? How do you release this strong emotion in a healthy way? How can we work through our anger and not get stuck but move forward and grow? I am still learning myself. Unfortunately, I didn't grow up in a family that modeled anger well nor were we taught how to express and process our feelings. We learned the extreme spectrum. Either you stuffed the emotion and walked around giving people the cold shoulder or we cut loose and let it rip. Again, I do not shame or fault my family. I wholeheartedly believe they did the best they could with what they had and knew. They cannot model or teach something they had not learned or was taught themselves. It's uncharted territory. But now that I have kids, I want to give them better resources and tools. So I'm doing the hard work of learning and teaching myself. I want to give my kids a better framework and the proper perspective so they can better navigate life. 

For me, when I get angry it generally is driven by the sense that a great injustice has been committed and I need to speak up and out against it. I feel misunderstood or misrepresented. It's not reflective of me, my heart, intention or character. So what I've learned for me, I need to first be quiet. I need to get that anger and emotion under control. I catch my bearings so that I can articulate my frustration constructively and with focus. I do this because I don't want to  be vicious, mean-spirited, attacking the other persons character, judgmental or make childish digs. I want to fight fair, and address the issue of my anger. I think it is possible to be angry and honor. They are not mutually exclusive. During that quiet time, I seek God's perspective. I may listen to worship music, read scripture or a devotional. The goal is to get in the right heart and mind-space. Now, I obviously have not perfected this, but I am working at getting better. I then find a safe person to vent. I don't filter it but I release what I'm experiencing and feeling in it's raw form. That's why it's important that my first step is to be quiet. It shaves off some of the initial rawness, only God can handle. 

Some people do not need to vent, like my husband. He needs space, quiet and time with God. He deals with it and moves on. It's done. But for me, I cannot keep it inside. It literally will torment me and eat me alive. I will lose sleep for days. It will fester. That unreleased anger needs to go somewhere, and I don't want to unleash or project  that anger onto innocent bystanders! I desperately need to be heard. I need to be seen. While I know God sees me, hears me and I've gone to him, the way I am wired, I need another human to hear me. To acknowledge what I am feeling is not ridiculous but indeed it's wrong. Having said that, I don't vent to "yes" women. They are godly, seasoned, faith filled women who have walked with the Lord many years, experienced many things and are mentors in my life. They always challenge me and give me both perspectives. They listen to me. They acknowledge me as a human, worthy of dignity. And most importantly, they always point me back to God and pray for me while affirming their love and support.  

Then I pray again. Probably cry too. Then get angry again. Then feel sad. Remember, I'm all sorts of emotions and feelings. 

If the situation then allows (I am now getting bolder) and I don't feel fully released, I either distance myself for space to think and process. Then I will go directly to the person (if possible) that angered me and address it with them. Whether that be by email, text or face to face. Every step is seasoned in prayer with sought out wise, godly counsel. The posture of my heart is of worship and my mind is set on biblical truth and God's perspective. Those are the main ingredients that's layered throughout and are the bookends of how I process anger (and any other emotion for that matter). 

I do not address the person directly until I have a peace from God on what to say. I want to choose the right timing and have the right words. Sometimes he allows me to speak to the person, and sometimes I have to rest in Him for the closure to move forward and on. Journaling and writing helps me tremendously as well. I write in raw form and now that I have a little more time, I take that raw emotion and formulate it into something more refined and constructive, like a post.  

Jesus experienced anger. But he never sinned. He was direct in his feelings and thoughts, addressing their actions but never attacking their character. He simply stated the facts, even if it was a hard fact or truth to hear. He was not passive aggressive. He said what needed to be said, not too much and not too little. He took breaks and sought out space to be quiet and get with his father as a healthy practice. He was never violent, but in cleansing the temple, he overturned the money changers tables who defiled the temple courts. He felt righteous anger and indignation. He remembered his purpose and his focus and never allowed what angered him to deter him. It fueled his passion and resolve to complete his God assignment. He remembered who he is and where he came from. And more importantly, where and who he is going back too. So when he did all that he could do, he released it back to his Father. He let it go. 

Friend, let's get healthier in dealing with our anger. Let's not just manage or mitigate it. Let's be bold in love and address it like Jesus did so that we may find peace and freedom. Lest any bitter root or resentment find it's place in our hearts. And we are the prisoners. 

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