“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God
forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to
God.” Eph 4:31-5:2
Pay attention to that: Get rid, don’t tuck away or try to ignore it. Addressing our ugly feelings is usually an action that seems counter to who we are as good people. It feels safer to deny it, bury it, block it out, drug it up, ignore it and hope it’ll go away. Instead, you’re told to bring it up so you can throw it out.
Anger is fuel. You experience it and want to react. We usually do anything but listen to it. Anger shouts to be heard. Anger is a loud voice, a shout, a plea, and a
demand. Anger persistently requests your respect. Anger is a map, and a ground plan. Anger shows your boundaries, and when, how and where you’ve been shoved off the path.
Anger is the defiant admission that you’ve not been honored. Anger can shows you where you want to go, where you’ve been, and how you haven’t quite made it. Anger points the way, not an
accusing finger. Anger must be acted upon, not acted out. Anger is intended to be the fuel that will propel you to action. Anger reminds you that you can’t get away with your old ways
anymore. The old life is dying. You are being reborn, and birthing hurts.
Anger can be the motivation to move forward into new life. Anger is a tool, not a master. Stagnation, apathy and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is not gentle, but she is loyal. When you pay attention, you will be shown when you have been betrayed, or when you have betrayed yourself. Anger demands that you take a look inside. It is necessary to honor and respect self, and not to expect this same confirmation from others. The Spirit is drawing your attention as a reminder that you’ve forgotten Who really loves and cares for you. It’s time to refocus and shift direction.
Anger is not the action; it is action’s invitation.
It takes practice to learn from anger. It starts with no longer fearing your anger, and matures into seriously paying attention to what’s going on inside. [These thoughts are adapted from Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way.]
If you are an intimate of an angry person, you’ll recognize the symptoms of being caught in the sights of a hair trigger. Know that you are not the source! He has chosen to react in anger, not you. Rather than suffering for the one who passes on his pain, why not teach yourself to deflect, while asking, “what’s the real answer? Why are you really angry?” Know that this will not stop the attacks, but sends the message that you will not carry the other’s responsibility for the anger.
By persistently knowing that you are only the target, not the blame, you will begin to break a bad cycle.
“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” Prov 24:26
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Prov 12:17
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Prov 15:1
Do you see how another’s harsh words can fill your own heart with anger? Sometimes the gentlest action is to walk away from the attack. Other times, the gentle answer must be delivered LOUDLY and courageously: you will not take responsibility for another’s anger.
“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Prov 15:4
“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” Prov 25:15
Miroslav Volf, a native Croatian who taught theology there during the war in the former Yugoslavia and who learned to identify with the cursing Psalms very personally, explains in Exclusion and Embrace how those Psalms may in fact lead toward forgiveness:
“For the followers of the crucified Messiah, the main message of the imprecatory Psalms is this: rage belongs before God…. This is no mere cathartic discharge of pent-up aggression before the Almighty Who ought to care. Much more significantly, by placing unattended rage before God we place both our unjust enemy and our own vengeful self face-to-face with a God who loves and does justice. Hidden in the dark chambers of our hearts and nourished by the system of darkness, hate grows and seeks to infest everything with its hellish will to exclusion. In the light of the justice and love of God, however, hate recedes and the seed is planted for the miracle of forgiveness.”
“Offer your heart as a living sacrifice.” Rom 12:1-2
Oswald Chambers said, “So that is what faith is—God perceived by the heart.”
Take a moment of solitude to make a list of all the things you love. Don’t edit, and don’t prioritize what you think God or anybody thinks about what’s precious to you. Simply think of all the things you love. Whether it’s the people in your life, things that bring you joy or the happy places of your memory, you could not love them if you did not have a heart. Have you seen any of these treasures in your collage?
[the Source starts here]