Anger is a powerful emotion and can pull us into situations we are not prepared to deal with. We are not in control. Anger can map out a direction and lifestyle we did not ask for or want. It just takes us there!
We get angry about relationships and our circumstances at home or work. But anger can quickly get out of control. It is like an anchor attached to a rope that slips out of our hands before we can get a good grip on it.
Now a lot of Christians think it is a sin to be angry. But the Apostle Paul says that we can be angry and not sin:
26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, (Ephesians 4:26 NKV)
Anger is an emotion and sometimes things happen that are clearly unfair or simply wrong, and we are allowed to get angry. But we must catch the last part of this verse when Paul says don’t stay angry. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath. In other words, we need to do something to stop this anger from ruling our lives.
And this is life.
Suddenly, we find ourselves pulled into emotions and circumstances that we were not prepared for. We lose control because we do not see anger as an effective tool and road map to learning about ourselves.
Anger often shows up when someone has infringed on our personal space and overstepped boundaries. Sometimes it is because we have not made our boundaries clear to others or worse we have been inconsistent (with our kids for example) when it comes to enforcing them. One day we do and the next day we don’t, and we send mixed messages.
In other instances, people are just inconsiderate and do it anyway. We are still allowed to get angry but need to choose to forgive them instead of allowing the anger to burn inside which can result in a root of bitterness (Hebrews 12:15).
But for many Christians we think we should never be angry. We think it is unchristian to get angry, and so we stifle our anger.
Harriet Levna, a practicing clinical psychologists, says stuffing down our anger and then venting later on does not promote a ‘growth mentality’. We should use our anger as a road map to help us identify and address underlying problems.
There is always a personal message for me in my anger. But often I let my anger take the focus off me as I blame others for what happened. But the truth is I may need to take some responsibility for what happened because often I do not make my boundaries clear.
If we don’t pay attention to anger in our lives and search out the message it has for us we will not change.
Use anger as a red flag indicating there is something deeper here that needs to be addressed. Allow anger to be a tool that digs up unresolved issues. Anger can be used as part of your healing journey and to experiencing Christ’s boundless love, healing and forgiveness.