You might have noticed that you can’t simply avoid dealing with your anger.
It eats away at you and then, you shove it back down inside to a place of dull living and stroke your right to it, only to have it resurface in another form.
Anger is an inevitable response to living in a troubled world where things can and do go wrong all the time.
But if you don’t learn how to deal with your anger, you will constantly hurt others.
You will poison your own heart and you will estrange yourself from God.
God cares about what makes you angry, and God cares about how you express anger. Being mean when you are angry or cranky is not acceptable.
Hidden anger is indirect and unproductive behavior. It is intentional in nature, vindictive and sometimes can be unconscious.
It blocks resolution because it’s intended to hurt someone, annoy them or to unkindly, make a point.
Hidden anger is also triggered by needs that are not met like need for attention, love, care, being in control, feeling validated and many others.
Hidden anger is never positive because of its manipulative nature. In other words, it can be toxic to relationships.
Passive aggressive people are very skillful in manipulation and also acting as if the other party is the upset or angry person.
They have the obsessive need to control, manipulate, engage in childlike/immature behaviors, and are often self absorbed and depressed.
Sadly, they often refuse to humble themselves or invest time into getting input from outside skilled help. (They might lose control!)
Common advice can be a bit wobbly at times when it comes to dealing with anger.
Some counselors notice that people get tied up in knots when they hide or stuff their anger.
They will tell you to “deal with your anger” by getting in touch with how you feel and then expressing it.
“Get it off your chest. Say exactly what you think. Give ‘em a piece of your mind.” This can hurt more than help folks!
Other counselors have noticed how destructive people become when they express anger. They will counsel you to control your anger.
Psychotherapy, medication, exercise, and meditation are just some of the different ways they recommend for defusing your anger and calming yourself down.
So which do you choose? Venting or Calming?
Actually, God has a different way for you to deal with your anger. He knows all to well that stuffing your anger deep inside is destructive.
And just learning tricks for keeping calm never discovers the purpose for which God designed anger.
Anger needs to be acknowledged and expressed in a positive way, as a form of doing what is good and right.
At the same time, God knows well that venting your anger is destructive. Instead of expressing your anger in ways that hurt those around you, it is possible to express your anger in a way that actually redeems difficult situations and relationships.
How does this happen?
It starts with understanding what anger is, where it comes from, and how a right relationship with God will actually change the way you view and express your anger.
What is anger?
Anger is your God-given capacity to respond to a wrong that you think is important.
God also gets angry at things that are wrong in this world. Your capacity to be angry is an expression of being made in His image.
So when you get angry, you are not necessarily wrong. But often anger does go wrong.
Getting angry about things that don’t matter is a real hindrance.
God’s anger is always holy and pure because what He says is wrong is wrong, and what He says matters, DOES matter.
God is right to be displeased when people are harmed and hurt by others.
Romans 13:10 (ESV) tells us, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor” while Romans 12:17 says, “Repay no one evil for evil.”
Two wrongs never make a right, and our anger often simply doubles the wrong. But God’s anger makes right, what is wrong (Romans 12:19).
One difference between our anger and God’s anger is that, since we aren’t always holy and pure, we often get angry at things that aren’t true wrongs … or at things that don’t really matter to anyone but us.
If you throw a tantrum when you are served cold food in a restaurant, or yell at people when you are stuck in traffic, you are wise to recognize that these are not things that really matter in God’s world.
God explains to us in the Bible why we get angry at things that don’t really matter to anyone but us.
The apostle Paul uses the phrase “desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16) to describe where our wrong anger comes from.
You and I get angry because of what we desire (what we expect, want, and believe we need) to happen in a certain situation.
Think about the last time you got angry. Underneath your feelings, words and actions is something you wanted but didn’t get.
Respect, affirmation, power, convenience, cooperation, help, money, comfort, someone else to do your grunt work, intimacy, peace, pleasure, identity, safety … what is it that you want?
And how do you respond when you don’t get it?
Anger going wrong loudly tells the world, “I want my way! My will be done!”
Wanting a good thing more than God?
Sometimes you want good things.
- It’s not wrong to want your husband to love and listen to you.
- It’s not wrong to want your children to respect and obey you.
- It’s not wrong to want your boss to be honest with you.
- It’s not wrong to want a warm meal and a hot cup of coffee, or to get to your appointment rather than getting stuck in traffic.
But when fulfilling your desires, even for a good thing, becomes more important than anything else, that’s when it changes into a “desire of the flesh.”
You want it too much. When you don’t get what you want, demand, believe you need, and think you deserve, or have earned, your anger flares up.
You get mean and project that onto others. And that’s where the choice to face your use of anger becomes and issue and matter of what’s going on inside of your heart.
See also: Hidden Anger – Part 2
In His Shadow,
~ Mary Lindow ©
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Mary Lindow has a passion for encouraging others – all generations, careers or vocations to live expressing excellence through personal integrity, healthy accountability, and wise management of talents and skills. She’s a sought after keynote, inspirational, humorous speaker and teacher across the USA and internationally in Ministers & Spiritual leaders Conferences, and training seminars for various organizations.