02 Feb Anger
I never knew I had an issue with ungodly anger until I had kids and became a stay at home mom. There’s something that stirs up when, day after day of not being able to control my environment, trying in vain to respond rationally to an irrational person, and trying to prove my worth in a role that is generally unappreciated and undervalued, that brings out the ugly things inside of me.
For many years I struggled to manage my anger outbursts, which were mainly geared toward my kids, a few times toward my husband.
I read articles, blogs, listened to podcasts, searched through parenting books. People offered helpful tools, like taking a time out from the situation when you feel tension building, slow counting, or even just putting yourself in your kids’ shoes.
They sounded great on paper, but unfortunately nothing seemed to help. The trouble is, I would have already blown up before I could even process what was happening. I felt I had no control over myself in those moments. I would unleash my words in a mixture of fury and volume, at times slamming doors, or sometimes throwing things.
And then, as the anger subsided, shame would surface and take its place. It’s terrible to see the hurt on your children’s faces after you’ve just screamed at them. I felt terrible, hopeless. Like there was something inherently wrong with me. I began to believe that this was just who I am… an angry person.
It wasn’t until this year that the Lord began to redeem me out of this sin. I was finally so desperately determined to find holiness in this area of my life that I decided I couldn’t do it on my own, and went to the Lord for help.
It’d be funny if it wasn’t so sad how stubborn we can be in trying to “figure things out on our own” when God is there wanting to help you all along.
Through a few different experiences, He showed me how He would bring me out of my sin.
I discovered first that as I began to spend regular time in prayer and meditation on the Word of God, I naturally started being less angry. I stumbled on this in an unrelated way, I hadn’t set out to curb my anger by daily quiet times. I had decided this year to commit myself to daily devotions as I had a deep desire to know the Lord better.
But as I found myself spending more time in the presence of Jesus, it became more natural to remain at peace even when my surroundings were in turmoil.
That was the first step, I was scratching the surface and it helped about 75% of the time, but there were still times I struggled.
I knew I wanted to go deeper and attack the root of the sin. So I decided to attack the stronghold of anger in my life during a session of inner healing ministry.
Thanks to the Holy Spirit and to the couple ministering to me, the Lord began to show me how deep this root of anger really went in my heart, and how He was going to help me dig it out.
You see, when I was growing up, there weren’t many strong emotions expressed in my home outside of anger. This may resonate with many from the traditional Chinese culture. Looking back at my lineage, it was clear that ungodly anger was something that was being transferred down through the generations in my family.
When I was little, I would often observe adults react to turmoil, disobedience, or other difficult situations by attempting to regain control through anger. Yelling until you get your way, or until the person you are shouting at cowers into submission, was not an uncommon occurrence.
Repeated observations of this cycle made me believe that anger could be used to assert control in a situation. It was an ungodly belief that reinforced itself over and over again throughout my early life.
And since anger was the main emotion I knew growing up, it imprinted strongly into my emotional index. A lot of other emotions I felt – like loneliness, unworthiness, shame, guilt, and frustration – I interpreted and released as anger.
I didn’t know how to say, “I feel unappreciated” to my husband. Instead, I would focus on something that he didn’t do right that day, then angrily pick at it, accusing him of not caring and making him feel generally terrible.
All of these revelations came out of my ministry session. I saw my anger for what it really was. It wasn’t me. I am not “an angry person”. My identity does not have ungodly anger in it. It was simply a root that had gone so deep in my life, through generational sins as well as my own, that God was getting ready to remove.
And He showed me how.
First through forgiveness. Forgiving those, including myself, who had influenced me in the sin of anger. Forgiveness is so important because it releases me and gives me a chance to be free.
Next, he gave me a picture. The Lord led me to a river, wide, cool and calm. He told me, “this is the river of peace which I freely give.” Ah, how nice, I thought, exactly what I need! But He wasn’t finished. He handed me a bucket. “It’s your job to make sure you fill your bucket daily or as often as possible.”
Touché, Jesus, touché! “Yes Lord, I will try my best to fill my bucket daily so I’m ready when I face those times of turmoil.”
After that, he gave me an empowering word. He told me that He would give me a new catalog of emotions and He would teach me how to communicate them. To do this, He would lead me to resources and people to learn from.
In fact, Brené Brown came to my mind at that time. It’s amazing because she is currently doing extensive research on emotional literacy. She found that the average adult can only really identify three emotions. But through her research, she has come up with more than 30 core emotions (see image below). How astounding is that!
So the Lord said that He will teach me how to be literate in all the emotions he’s given me, so I will no longer default to “anger”. And He will teach me how to express them to those I love. What a powerful gift!
Finally, after forgiveness, repentance and receiving all these promises and insight from the Lord, I was able to tell the enemy that held me captive in my anger to leave me, in the name of Jesus. It no longer has a foothold in me in the sin of anger, and I refuse to let it try to regain that ground.
I’ve begun exercising my healed spirit & emotions, and the difference is noticeable. Yes, I still slip up, but no, I no longer let the feelings of shame and “I’m just an angry person” take hold of me.
Rather, I immediately repent, ask God for forgiveness, as well as ask the person who received the brunt of my anger for forgiveness. I identify the sin, call it out, and restate that I have been healed and set free.
I know that anger isn’t me anymore. And I can’t wait until one day I’ll look back and say, “Gosh, remember when I used to struggle with ungodly anger? I can’t remember the last time I acted that way!”
I love that God wants us to be free of the things that bind us. Jesus wants to heal our hearts so that we don’t have to keep making the same mistakes and stay in the same negative patterns of our lives. It takes time and work, but it is so worth it!