In today’s society, it can easy to look around and have almost anything cause you to become angry. Maybe it’s the political post of an annoying Facebook friend, the lies you just found one of your best friends has been telling about you, or a hurtful comment from a family member. Maybe for a long time your heart has been angry at God for not granting you that one job or one thing you’ve always wanted.
Truthfully, I didn’t fully understand the depth of anger until almost two years ago. I was in the midst of starting my sophomore year at Grove City and I remember coming home on my fall break excited to relax with my family and finally not have to eat cafeteria food. Instead, I came home to my mother telling me that my father had left our house and essentially their marriage was over.
Now, I am not one of those kids who ever once believed her parents had a fairy tale romance. My father is a dairy farmer whose idea of spending quality time with me was forcing me to milk for him on Saturday nights. He wasn’t a bad guy, just not a good father. He never hit me or my brother or mom, he never cheated on my mother with another woman, but he also never made us a priority. It still stuns me to realize that there are girls out there whose fathers buy them flowers for Valentine’s Day and actually knows the names of their friends from college.
Since my parents have been separated for the past twoish years, I have had to start to form a relationship with my father on my own. Nothing could’ve been tougher. At his core, my dad is a taker and not very much of a giver. My relationship with him revolves around his work. I hardly hear from him during the crop season of the summer, but he will be texting me all the time like we are the closest friends when he is bored in the winter. Even when my mom finally told us what happened, I had to be the one to call him first.
And it makes me crazy angry. Like want to rip up something or scream in his face angry. Because people like my dad can never admit they were wrong. That they were the ones who neglected my mother, tormented my brother, and made me some sort of weird favorite. He can never admit that he actually messed up. And that’s the hardest part isn’t it? Forgiving someone who doesn’t admit they are wrong or who doesn’t ask you for forgiveness. How do you forgive someone who doesn’t realize what they did was wrong?
Now I can’t pretend to know your story or relate to the pain that anger or a lack of forgiveness has had on your life. I don’t know the number of tears you’ve cried over the boy who didn’t like you but tried to ask out your best friend, the mother who wanted you to be perfect out of the womb, or the parent who never made you their priority, but I know that holding that anger inside only destroys you.
The Bible talks plenty about God’s wrath and anger, but it also holds the answer to how we as humans can deal with our internal anger and conflicts.
Ephesians 2:26-27 says, “ In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Don’t give the devil a foothold.”
Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “ Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”
It seems that the only person our anger benefits is satan. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to give him any more advantage over me then he already has. We can be hypocrites in our anger, becoming self-righteous and not forgiving a person often times for the same crime we have committed. Sure, I did not abandon my family or put my job over them like my father did to me, but I have ignored God. I have ignored Him in favor of friends or Netflix episodes or sleeping in. I have put idols and my own desires ahead of God’s and rushed through my devotions to get to the rest of my day. Frankly, I have done just what my dad has done to me.
Now I am not saying that we as humans aren’t allowed to feel hurt and let down and angry. The problem happens when we let this anger consume and intensify to passive aggression, hurting other people, and letting it damage our self-worth. God is the ultimate judge of the earth and He will see that each person will pay the price for their sin. Just like the women who was being stoned for adultery, we are not worthy to cast the first stone.
There might be days that your anger is incapacitating, or you feel like you can never forgive the person who has hurt you, but that is a lie. The power of Jesus Christ lives inside you and He alone can help you to conquer this anger.
But how can you start?
- Talk to someone. Whether that be a family member, counselor, or friend sometimes you need to get off your chest what has been bottling up inside you. Let them give you wisdom and pray over you for healing.
- Write about it. I have always felt a lot of relief from talking to God through writing. It is a great outlet to be able to say whatever you need to without having anyone around. It can also be a great tool you can look back on to monitor your improvement.
- Let go. It can be hard to forgive and pretend like nothing has happened when someone has wronged you so badly. But I guarantee letting that weight go is going to give you the freedom and peace you are craving. So what that awful friend of yours is never going to apologize for gossiping about you? So what you have a dead beat dad that has a pride problem? So what you had your heart broken by an ex-boyfriend who you gave everything to? Being angry isn’t going to make them change or make you feel better. If you want to let go of your anger, you need to be the one willing to change.
Last summer, I postponed the last of the seven deadly sins from my series because I didn’t want to share my story with anger. But now I realize that this anger I feel doesn’t have to define me. It doesn’t have to define you either. Are you willing to make that change today?