Managing Our Emotions Well Day 1 – Anger
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27, ESV)
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:19-21, ESV)
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. (Proverbs 29:11, ESV)
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11, ESV)
I’ve never liked emotions. It always seemed like there were far too many extremes that came along with them and so I avoided them. It felt wrong to be enraged, to melt into a puddle of tears, to shriek with joy, to really feel anything at all. It was uncomfortable, and it didn’t take long to become unfamiliar with emotions the more I pushed them away. I learned just how wrong I was about emotions a little further into life than maybe I should have, but nonetheless I learned. You see, emotions are a tricky thing: in and of themselves they are not sinful, but how we react to them can be sinful.
I believe anger is the most denied emotion of them all. It is the most widely unaccepted emotion, but for all the wrong reasons. Anger is not a sin. When someone spills your freshly poured coffee all over your clean white shirt, even if by accident, it is not wrong or sinful to feel anger. It’s a natural reaction. We cannot control how we feel about events or occurrences in the moment. What we can control is what we do with that emotion. Instead of letting your head explode and scream at the person who spilled your coffee, you can choose to compose yourself and release the offense. It may not always be easy, but we can practice self-control when it comes to anger.
I’ve never really liked the saying “Don’t go to bed angry” when referring to married couples. There is so much at play with our emotions. When we have big emotions about small inconveniences, it is an indicator that something else is wrong. For example, if I feel enraged because I tripped over my spouse’s shoe at the door, the emotion itself probably has nothing to do with the shoe. It’s likely that over the course of the day I have been holding in one stressor after another; I’m tired, and I’m hungry, and the shoe was just the final straw. Personally, when I feel anger, I need time. I need to have a moment to think rationally about why I feel anger, maybe get a snack, and perhaps even sleep to calm down. Upon waking up I may even have a laugh that I got as angry as I did over something so small.
I don’t believe the verses in Ephesians 4 mean to literally not sleep when you are angry, but instead to not leave anger unresolved. When we allow anger to fester, it opens a foothold for the devil to come in and warp our minds. When you’re angry, do not sweep it under the rug. Just as with any other emotion, you have to process anger. Step away, analyze the situation rationally once the initial weight of the emotion has passed, and evaluate. Why am I angry? Is this person/situation really the cause of my anger or are there other things I’ve left untreated? If you can be rational about your anger, especially when involving another person, you need to communicate this feeling. Let them know that they made you angry when they did that thing and that you would have preferred that they had done it differently. The other party may not take this well, but when you are able to release the weight of the anger it does not grip you in the same way as it did before. It does not tear at your soul anymore and Satan can’t use it against you.
My challenge to you today is to be bold in your anger. Do not shy away from the feeling but learn your triggers when it comes to being angered. Learn the best ways to calm yourself when you’re overwhelmed by anger. Learn how to communicate that feeling better to heal relationships and prevent the attacks of the devil. Ask the Lord to help you practice self-control and patience in situations that anger you. The more you learn about your anger, the less likely it is to overwhelm you and the more likely you are to be slow to anger.