19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
Is it wrong to be this angry? That really is the question is it not? Anger is not necessarily a negative emotion. It really depends on the “why” and the “how” behind your anger. I would suggest your goal not to be to eliminate anger but to better understand the dynamics behind it so that you can better manage your anger.
So first of all, WHY do we get angry? What leads us to get so upset that our blood boils? See if one or more of these do not relate to your struggle.
- To hurt yourself– you mess up and you cannot stand it. The perfectionist in you raves about the fact that you can’t always get it right. So you direct anger at yourself. You self loathe. You hate feeling like a failure as a spouse, parent, worker, or in general. So you have this self hatred that exists and brews in you.
- To achieve control of the situation– quite often we get upset that a situation or relationship is not going the way we want. We feel like it is out of our control. That can cause us to feel panicky. Some, in moments of panic, run and hide. Others feel cornered and lash out. Anger is our attempt to gain control back in the situation. To manipulate the situation more to our liking. I find this to be a major cause of many people’s anger issues.
- To feel powerful- no one likes to feel small. For some, feeling small brings the demon out in us. We lash out with sarcastic venom or passive aggressive subterfuge or barrages of curse words. We tear them down so they feel much smaller than we just felt. You may not realize in the moment this is what you are doing but if you take time to evaluate your outburst of anger honestly, then you might find that this is the culprit.
- To fight injustice- we might call this righteous indignation. Jesus showed anger towards injustice. When the money changers were using God’s house as a way to make a fortune, Jesus got very angry. So angry he turned their tables over! (See Matthew 21:12). This anger comes from a deep conviction of what is right and wrong. It is our moral center. It is our desire to stand up for what God values. It is outrage towards injustice. This anger is a proper reaction to injustice as long as it is under control, less we act unwisely.
So there are four reasons we get angry. If you are like me you can relate to all four of them. Question now is how do we better manage our anger in a way that honors God and is healthy for us.
HOW to deal with your anger:
- Don’t ignore it or try to suppress it– this never works! Our anger just builds up until it becomes a major explosion. Think about a tea kettle being heated on the stove.The water begins to boil and steam is produced. Steam creates pressure and pressure needs to be released. The kettle releases the pressure through a top spout. The kettle can literally whistle in relief as the pressure is released. When our anger builds, we feel the growing tension of it in our soul. It stays there growing until eventually we let it out to purge ourselves of the tension. The more we let it build the greater the impact of release. It feels good to relieve the pressure, so in our moment of anger it fees right and good to us. Afterwards we see the destruction it left behind. We have to deal with our anger. We have to get behind it to deal with its source: fear.
- Recognize that Fear is the real issue- some of us are terrified of being hurt. We fear being devalued or taken lightly. We fear our voice not being heard. We fear losing control. Fear is the source of much of our anger. In order to properly deal with our anger, we need to tackle our fear. God’s word tells us He did not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Rather we are to have self control. We are to control our fear and not wait and try and control our anger. When it gets to anger it is too late. We need to deal with the fact that our fear is us being minimized. Instead of defending our worth in hopes they buy it, we need to better understand where our true value comes from. This means dealing with our insecurity.
- Don’t let insecurity put you on the attack- Anger is a defense mechanism. We deeply feel our own failings and insecurities and it can overwhelm us, so we lash out defensively so the feelings will stop. Insecurity is like a raw wound in us. You would react violently to anyone trying to jab their finger in your wound. Anger is our attempt to get that person to stop exposing our insecurity. Where does our insecurity come from? There might be many reasons you experience insecurity: past rejection, demanding relationship with your parents, divorce, broken relationships, or your personality tendencies. Regardless of where the insecurity stems from it is in understanding your value in Christ that you realize you don’t need to get so angry in order to defend yourself and your honor.
Anger is not always the wrong response to life but often it indicates a greater issue that exists. Be honest with yourself about why you get angry. Is there one of the above reasons that resonates with you the most? Consider how to deal with the source of that anger. Have courage to face your insecurities and fear head on. Knowledge is power and your being aware is a great step. You can do this with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit behind you.