Friday, August 1, 2014

Anger and Relationships

(Submitted by Donnie O’Fallon)
My dear brothers, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20
Without exception, we all struggle with angry feelings at times, and often those angry feelings do far more than their share of damage in our relationships with wife, kids, siblings, co-workers, neighbors, and friends.  Some folks, once they’ve had issues with someone, just sever their relationship with that person while others are very cool toward that individual and their relationship is never quite the same.  Why? Because they make no attempt to reconcile or deal with the fallout of their anger. 

Then there are still others who do nothing to understand nor try to get control of their anger and their life’s path is strewn with those who’ve been hurt physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.  Proverbs 19:22 says: “An angry man stirs up dissension and a hot tempered one commits many sins.”  Under pressure, we’re all prone to ‘blow a fuse or to burn the house down.’ Not good news.

Anger can come from several sources.  Consider the following:
·      Often, anger is a LEARNED BEHAVIOR (and parents are frequently the teachers)
·      Anger can come as a result of a deep HURT that wounds our hearts
·      It can arise from UNMET NEEDS such as: unconditional love not received, emotional rejection, etc.
·      This is a big one: UNMET EXPECTATIONS which create disappointment out of control.
·      Reacting to a perceived Injustice or Unfairness causes some to react in what they feel is righteous anger.
·      And finally, INSECURITY, perhaps born of a sense that you or your performance is not accepted.
I’m glad the Bible reveals the personality flaws of the characters that are our heroes of the faith, for I realize that because of God’s patience and grace for them, there’s hope for me!  For example: 
·      King Saul had great insecurity issues and tried to kill David.  This in turn resulted in great anger from his son Jonathan (David’s best friend), and brought about a rift in the relationship between Saul and Jonathan. See 1 Samuel 20:34  
·      Cain slew Able out of a fit of rage, because God accepted Able’s sacrifice over Cain’s. 

Unmet Expectations
·      Joseph’s brothers felt a deep hurt and jealousy toward him feeling that their parents cared more for him than for themselves.  As a result they acted out of anger and sold their younger brother into slavery, dipped his coat of many colors in the blood of an animal, and told their parents he’d been killed by a wild animal.  

·      Moses killed an Egyptian in his anger as he watched a Hebrew countryman being abused by the Egyptian guard.  Injustice or Unfairness
Do you see the pain and grief that each one caused in relationships?
People deal with their anger in varying ways.  Here are three you may identify with:
·      Some SPEW like Mount Saint Helen did in Washington State in the 1980’s.  It was powerful, destructive, and out of control; spewing volcanic ash into the atmosphere.  Hot lava ran down hills causing great destruction, fire, chaos, and even death for many.
·      Others STUFF.  Anger can build within us until we just shut down and build walls; becoming guarded and protected!  We just don’t want be hurt anymore.
·      Finally there are the SLOW LEAKERS.  These are the Passive/Aggressive folks.  They are afraid of anger.  They pout, are sarcastic, and withdraw their affection as a way of punishing.  Cutting remarks are made because they hide their hurt. 

Anger that is unprocessed and unreleased can turn into depression.  Depression has been defined as anger turned inward.  Moreover, improperly dealing with anger is dangerous because the moment we allow a situation to become heated and out of control we move from the part of our brain that helps us think logically and rationally and move over to the other side of the brain where emotions completely take over.

Anger is like the red light on the dash of your car, it’s a sign of a problem and not the problem itself.  It’s indicating the real problem is under the hood.  If you’re continually losing your temper and hurting or straining relationships, you really should prayerfully consider the following acrostic: A.B.C.D.E.
·      Acknowledge the anger: Own it, admit it, and accept the responsibility to make it right!
·      Back track:  Find the source or origin to the primary emotion and discover what your part was.
·      Consider the cause.  And remember, the only person you can control is you.
·      Determine: How best to deal with every aspect as it relates to those relationships affected.
·      Expect the Lord to assist you in this matter. He will if you will seek Him! 

Proverb 15:1 offers good counsel here: “A soft and gentle answer turns away anger.”

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