People handle anger in different ways. Some blow up; yelling and screaming at everyone they love until they feel a release. Others bottle up anger and stuff it deep inside pretending it doesn’t exist until one day they find they can’t cope anymore with the enormous pain they are in.
I remember when I was a little girl I was a pressure cooker. I would hold in all of my feelings, my confusion, my frustration and my irritations. My parents had enough going on at home, so I would do my best to not be a burden on them. In my efforts to be the pleasing, perfect child, I would go weeks and months keeping my thoughts to myself and not expressing how uncomfortable I was getting with my hurt feelings. My emotions would build and build. I didn’t know what to do with them, so I would pretend I was fine until one day when someone merely glanced at me wrong… I would blow my stack. I would be angry and literally come unglued crying, screaming and raging until I felt better. What I realize now that I am much older and wiser if that I was shedding the snake’s skin.
Not to change the subject, but I just love our dogs. I watch them interact with each other and always marvel at how they express themselves. When Cosmo has had enough of our other dog bothering him, he simply bares his teeth, stares Bella down, and if he is really tired of her, he might growl at her. The beauty is she knows to back off and give him space because he is feeling frustrated and wants to be left alone. If she chooses to keep bothering Cosmo, he will merely snap at her. Anger. Reaction. Done in a second. Bella runs away, situation done.
Sometimes I wish that the people I love could be as perceptive as my dog Bella and would understand the cues I give off when I am getting beyond frustrated, puffed up and at the end of my rope. I’ll admit mine might be a short rope… but none the less… there were many years that I wished I had some fierce looking jowels that I could flash at someone when I needed the space to count to 10 to keep me from blowing up and expressing anger in a negative way.
Anger is a response related to having been offended, wronged or denied. Anger is a response that I struggled with most of my life as I mastered in my 20s a very negative and self-destructive way of dealing with my anger. In an effort to keep me from being the girl I was in my youth, I became a yeller. I would scream and holler, and it would feel good at the moment. What’s not alluring about bringing someone to your level… making them feel as hurt as you feel?
Even now… when I feel my frustration level rising with my amazing husband, it seems sexy at the time to just give him a zinger. I am just so certain at the moment of impact that he will feel my pain, take pity on me and apologize. In my head… I think this will solve all our problems, and we will make up and have a great night!
But the sad reality is it never works like that. He gets mad. I’ve been disrespectful and caused him harm. He’s now avoiding me and pulling away from me. He is not sympathetic or acknowledging my hurt feelings because he is now tending to his own wounds. The worst is I don’t feel better… I am angry, hurt, and now shameful. I start to think about myself as being a horrible wife, and that is when I imagine the snake is sitting there smiling down on me… as I have made him proud.
I think this is exactly what the Bible was referring to in James 1:20 when it says a man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. The more I wage the war of my anger, the less like God I am!
I love that God knew that we humans were just going to get angry sometimes. We all feel hurt or irritated when our needs or desires are not being met. Anger refers to the desire to “get even with”—that is, to take revenge on—the cause of the hurt… which for me in the last six years has been mostly anger at my recurrent miscarriage and at my spouse who didn’t always understand how miserable I was feeling.
I appreciate that He told us… it’s okay to feel mad. In Ephesians 4:26 Paul warns us to BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
We are warned in the Bible that we should be able to manage this emotion and not let it lead us into sin. That means I can acknowledge and own my feelings, but I can not react badly as a result of them. Disrespecting my spouse and uttering hateful words about my body grieves God.
I am still working on the yelling thing. To shed the snake’s skin, I have to make a HUGE effort every time I get angry or get overly emotional to remember that yelling is not going to do anything but make my life harder. Yelling accomplishes nothing positive for God, my family or me.
I will not get the outcome I desire when I choose to “punish” and misguidedly think I will get the love and support I so desperately want when I am broken. Harsh words will push any spouse away when you want him to actually draw near.
Lord… I pray to always remember that when I want to hear the comforting words “I’m sorry” or “I understand,” I must approach my spouse with a respectful heart. And I must know in my heart and head that I did not cause the miscarriages nor did my body, and I should love myself just as much as God loves me.