Day 2: Answering With Anger - How to Move from Coping to Hoping
Day 2: Answering with Anger
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”
I felt the heat rising from the tip of my toes to the top of my head. I stood a couple of feet from her as our eyes locked. I knew she was wrong and I wanted to tell her as much. Angry words bubbled in my gut. I could tell they wanted to spew out of my mouth in that moment, like they had many times before. In the past, moments when I reacted in anger made me feel strong. But what I learned was that they actually meant I was weak.
You see, I grew up in a family in which being angry was the indicator that we could handle things. Anger was the way to express yourself without having to dive too deep into what was really happening underneath. Anger creates distance from emotions stemming from our wounds through a false pretense of safety.
Maybe you know exactly what I mean. Anger has become your coping mechanism when life is hard and you’re frustrated with your lack of solutions. Anger or irritation feel like power and a solid place you can climb up on when you are drowning in a sea of pain. If anger has been our go-to strategy and modeled to us as normal, we can easily fall back into it when we’re overwhelmed, overthinking, or are simply over it.
That day I knew I had to make a different choice. I sat down in my chair and took a few deep breaths and spoke compassionately to myself, the way I believed Jesus would speak to me; “Ashley, you are in a really hard season. You are burnt out. You’re struggling with rejection. You feel like you aren’t good enough. This isn’t a reaction to this moment. It is a reaction to what you believe is true about yourself. Don’t make this a thing. This is not a thing. Take it to me and let this moment pass.”
I ran to the bathroom and sobbed. I was asking the Lord to change me and that meant having to recognize that what I had been doing for years wasn’t helping me cope but was in fact destroying every relationship in my path. I needed God to help me recognize that the anger was a symptom, not the cause.
Our people, circumstances, and life will continue to upset us and anger will arise. But it is what we do with that anger that matters. We want a life that produces the good things of God and we can ask him to help us change and trust our pain in his loving hands.
Lord, my anger has made me feel safe for years. But, I also know it has hurt many people along the way. The truth is, Lord, I don’t know how to change but I know with your help, I can. Give me the strength to be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Let me hear your voice lovingly calling me to let go of the symptom so you can address the cause. Help me to trust you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.