The text message, simple in content, lead to a tirade of all that’s wrong in the world. All he asked was, “Hey babe, how’s your day?” It should have been a short answer, “Fine” or “Eh”, but instead I unleashed a monstrosity of words. “The kids were fighting on the way to school. My students are dazed and confused. Our education system is lacking. I hate the minivan! And I got my hair caught in the copy machine while trying to unclog it!!”
Frustration just didn’t seem like the right word to cover my emotions. I was angry! Angry that my kids can’t make a ten minute ride in silence or at least sans screaming. Angry that my students aren’t as enthusiastic about English like I am. Angry that our education system does a disservice to them in the first place. Angry that I feel unsexy in the minivan (because that is a first world problem). And angry that the stupid copy machine can’t make ten copies without having a breakdown. I’m just angry! Can’t I just be angry?!
Sure. I can be angry. God created the emotion, but is it the right kind of angry? Is something productive going to come out of my anger or will I instead take my frustration and anger out on the surrounding masses? Knowing me and my foolishness it ends up causing me to sin instead of causing godly action. I’ve blogged about anger in the past and what James says about it, but as I grow in the Lord, He reveals to me more and more how the spirit of anger can lead to a miserable existence.
Think about it. You know those people who always seem to have a chip on their shoulders. You have no idea what you did to tick them off. It could be they didn’t like your smile. Or maybe you smelt like coffee and they don’t like coffee. Who knows? They’re just angry people. Are they any fun to be around? Na. Every time they get an audience it’s venting about this and nagging about that. Blah. Blah. Blah. If you’re angry about something, do something about it!
Ephesians 4:25-27 gives some good advice: “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 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.” There are some basic principles to take away from this passage.
1. When you are upset with someone, instead of blowing it up out of proportion, talk with that person BUT SPEAK IN TRUTH!! Don’t throw around false accusations. Don’t speak about that person behind his/her back. Don’t spread lies. Take your issues to that person and speak to them.
2. It’s ok to be angry, just don’t sin in that anger. Think of all the bridges that could be burned if you took your anger out on someone. If I was to speak angry, hurtful words to my husband every time he made me mad, it would end up destroying our marriage. But if I go to him in love and speak to him about what made me angry, it could produce life instead of causing death.
3. Don’t give the devil a chance to “steal, kill, and destroy.” That’s all he’s after is a small nitch to get in and weasel his wormy way into the heart of all that is good and pure. It could be that you haven’t spoken to your sister in five years because she said something that you don’t even remember. You allowed that anger and bitterness to build and build until now that family bond has been severed. While that might not matter to you in your anger, it will matter to you when the anger has subsided into regret.
Anger can be such a powerful emotion and when not controlled, could lead to devastating consequences. Tomorrow, I’ll give you some practical tools that Bobby and I learned in our marriage counseling training. I pray that in your anger you do not sin, but find a way to put that anger into positive action.