Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Dealing with Anger

The angry person says, "You owe me."

Some people are just angry people. And no it is no secret who these people are.  If you work for a person who keeps anger in their heart, you know it. If you're married to a person who keeps anger in their heart, you know it. If you are friends with a person who keeps anger in their heart, you know it.

And if you keep anger in your heart everyone around you knows it, too.

We get angry because we think someone took something from us. Money, time, innocence, whatever. But anger is like a whack-a-mole. If you push it down in one place, it just pops up in another. I might be angry at my Father, but take it out on my husband. I might be angry at my boss, but take it out on my kids. This is why psychologists tell us that we have to find creative ways to express our anger.  Whether through exercise, art, or something else. But this is only half the story.

Yes, we need to find ways to vent anger appropriately. I learned this the hard way. I used to vent anger through explosive outbursts and physical fights. As you can imagine, that's not very conducive to building relationships built on trust.  So I worked on it.  I got a punching bag.  I started exercising.  And all of this helped, but I was constantly having to find ways to vent anger.  I was still an angry person.

Now anger is not bad.  Anger is a very good thing because it is an indicator given to us by God that something is off.  So if you're angry be glad that God is giving you a heads-up on something. But if you are always angry then that is an indication that something is always off in your heart. And that's not a good thing.

Just venting your anger doesn't get to the root cause.  The antidote to anger is forgiveness. But for all the talk about how important it is, forgiveness is often impossible until you see something.  And that is, that your offense against God is greater than any offense someone has perpetrated against you, and God forgave you with a costly forgiveness anyway. That is part of the harshness and sweetness of the gospel. The harshness is that you have to come to terms with the depth of your own sin.  The sweetness is that God has forgiven you and it cost him dearly.  So you can now forgive those who wrong you, and yes it will be costly.  Forgiveness always is.

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