I was like a volcano, never quite sure when I would erupt. It happened at work when I didn’t like a co-worker’s tone when she spoke to me. It happened when I was pulled over for “running a red light.” It often happened in my home whenever conversations turned to areas of disagreement. Imagine that! Sweet Loureva would turn into a thugged-out, fist throwing, foul-mouthed Incredible Hulk in a heartbeat.
“…To be SLOW to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation.” Those are words from the church covenant that I recited each first Sunday for the first 22 years of my life. I said the words, but living them was a challenge. How could I live them when so many people and things seemed to push every button I had until they found the ones that set me off?
I was in my early twenties when my father sat me down to tell me that I really needed to get my anger under control. I rolled my eyes and lashed out at him for having the audacity to suggest that I had a problem. A few years later, however, the Lord revealed to me just how my anger was holding me back from the relationship He wanted to have with. I realized that I didn’t like who I was when I was angry. I didn’t like the way I felt when I was angry. I didn’t like the residual guilt, anger, pain, and other nasty emotions that remained when I allowed myself to be angry. I looked to the Lord and sincerely cried out to Him for help.
I began to speak candidly with loved ones about my angry moments. Last summer I even signed myself up for an anger management course, where I was surrounded by people who were angrier than I was. Hearing their experiences with anger really made me think. There are so many Christians walking around angry. Unconstructive anger is one of the enemy’s tricks to hinder our praise and block our blessings. Anger separates us from God’s presence and strains our relationships with our loved ones, and worse, our relationship with Him. The good thing is that there are things we can do to release ourselves from anger. There is victory in Jesus!
If you find yourself feeling angry, DON’T:
• Excuse the behavior. I rationalized that my anger was a part of who I was. Being angry is NOT okay. It is NOT a part of who you are, so don’t claim it.
• Ignore your anger. Sometimes I would get so upset that I would just go to sleep and hope to feel better when I woke up. Interestingly, the same level of anger would return as soon as I opened my eyes and saw that the problem was still there. You have to figure out constructive ways to express and release your anger. If you ignore it, it will only grow.
• Be too embarrassed to seek help. You can’t afford to be embarrassed about it. Your life will be so much better, your relationships will be so much stronger, and you will be so much happier once you decide that you don’t want to be angry anymore.
• Look to the Lord. Spend time with the Lord in prayer. Let Him know exactly how you feel. Cast your cares upon Him because He genuinely cares for you and wants you to be happy, emotionally stable, and functioning at your best. Seek His guidance and He will show you exactly what to do.
• Hide God’s word in your heart. Attack negative emotions with the word of God. I have included some helpful scriptures at the end of this article that you should memorize and recall when angry emotions arise.
• Figure out your triggers. Find the things that set you off. They vary from person to person. Identifying the things that make us angry can help us to avoid them or determine coping methods for things that we can’t avoid (living situations, classmates, co-workers, etc.).
• Release your anger. Breathe. Journal. Exercise. It is important that you let go of anger. Taking deep breaths, journaling and exercising are great ways to physically release the tension caused by anger.
• Talk with the person who has angered you AFTER you have calmed down and sought God’s guidance. You will feel relieved once you have calmly expressed your emotions from a loving place.
• Talk with someone who will pray with you and offer sound advice. Your church family is a great place to start. You’d be surprised by how many other people have grown through the same emotions you are feeling. You are NOT alone.
• Know that effective anger management is a process. New situations will constantly arise and test you, but if you follow these tips, you WILL overcome them.
God’s Word Says:
• "A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back." (Proverbs 29:11)
• "This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." (James 1:19-20)
• "Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools." (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
• "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thir¬sty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:18-21)
• "Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-temp¬ered man, lest you learn his ways and find a snare for yourself." (Proverbs 22:24-25)
• "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are... enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions... and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." (Galatians 5:19-24)
• "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." (Ephesians 4:26-27)