It’s normal to get angry
Many people, including me, overlook the impact of the letter to the Colossians, because it actually has a lot of good and practical advice for us as Christians today. Each and every one of us is confronted by our own misdeeds every now and then. This is the next confrontation:
7It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. 8But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. There is more, but let’s discuss these first. Many of us struggle with these.
You may get angry, because it’s one of the emotions that God gave us. We may be angry about crime being committed. We may be angry about corruption, because the emotion shows that we do not agree with all these misdeeds.
An American psychologist, Dr Mary Lamia, gave the following excellent definition:
Anger deserves appreciation. Designed to produce action in response to the violation of social norms or to remedy situations that are wrong, anger alerts you to circumstances that are unjust and tells you that you’re having a reaction to something that should not be as it is. Often anger is conceptualized as a disruptive emotional force, but it is meant to be an adaptive internal signal that cues self-protective action. Actually, anger is a good emotion that sometimes is misunderstood or irrationally misused. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/intense-emotions-and-strong-feelings/201108/maybe-you-should-be-angry)
I suspect that we cannot stop ourselves from getting angry. The feelings that accompany it are automatic – they rise up and you see red. But you see, this is where we can choose how we want to respond to those feelings. Are we going to use the energy freed by it in the right way or are we going to allow ourselves to lose it and say and do things we’ll regret later?
We need so much self-control to manage with wisdom the anger that rises up in us. We all need it. Just look what happens when the children mess up again or your spouse simply does not want to change. Even other drivers’ driving skills, or indeed the lack thereof, makes everybody blow their top.
We need heaps of wisdom. On our own, we cannot manage getting angry in the right way. We definitely need reinforcements. We must ask the Holy Spirit to help us every moment of the day. We must first admit that getting angry is part of our make-up. We must understand that it is a defense mechanism that kicks in. Right from the start, we’ll first cover ourselves, and not take others into account, or the way they experience us.
After getting angry, first wait a moment and give wisdom a chance to come in, and then plan how you will respond. It will be better for everybody and it will work the way God intended it to.
What makes you angry?
What makes you lose your temper?
What can you do to prevent it?
Father, sometimes we set off too quickly. We get angry and say things that shouldn’t have been said. Please help us keep our emotions under control so that we will not regret how we react when we get angry. Amen.