Don’t allow your anger to become sin by letting it stir and boil within your heart.
Anger is an emotion that we all experience as human beings. What differs is how we express it. For some, it’s a struggle to manage anger. Unfortunately, when not managed, anger has destructive consequences. Some individuals loose their job; others suffer from relationship breakups and personal inner turmoil. As we experience anger, it’s important we learn how to deal with it effectively.
Let me share the following scenario:
Rose had a rough night. Got four hours sleep. Woke up late and had to hurry to get ready. Didn’t make the drive thru for her coffee. She gets to the office late, which her boss frowns upon. She couldn’t concentrate during the meeting… kept thinking of all the things she had to do at home. She feels pressured to finish the deadline for the company’s project. It’s finally time to go home. She’s stuck in traffic. Has a huge headache. Then, remembers she didn’t take the chicken out to defrost, so she has to go through drive-thru. Gets home and it’s a mess. Her honey arrives and makes a face at the food she bought. Then…. Yes, it’s coming. She can’t take it anymore. She yells at him, starts to cry, throws the sandwich on the floor, storms into her room and locks herself in.
Wow! Is it too dramatic? Let’s be honest, we can all relate. It starts with one little thing, in this case, poor sleep. Then it just trickles down. Let’s clarify that anger just doesn’t come upon us, but that we can identify early on when those anger triggers are lit up. Only then are we able to nip anger in the butt before it turns ugly. How do we do that? Well, let me introduce to you three cousins that can help bring some clarity. They are:
Cousin 1 – Frustration
- Frustration is annoyed all the time. Nicknamed the Complainer. Tends to roll his eyes, puffs, moans and groans. His internal script is – “I can’t change the situation and it’s affecting my well-being.”
Cousin 2 – Anger
- Anger is well known and popular. Nicknamed Grumpy. He tends to walk around irritable, raising his voice and walking away from people – just plain old rude. Sometimes he tends to isolate or he can be up in your face. His internal script is – “Look what they did to me, they don’t love me, they don’t care about me.”
Cousin 3 – Aggression
- Cousin aggression is hostile and violent. Nicknamed the Bully. He physically, verbally and emotionally violates other’s rights. He knows this and doesn’t care. He only looks out for his own well-being. His internal script is – “I don’t know what to do! I feel threatened here. I need to protect myself.”
So what do you think about these three cousins? How often are they in your home? Now, I introduced the three them so you can see how it’s possible to move from frustration to anger, which can then lead to aggression. Yes, they are all the same – just varying degrees. I just wanted to make some distinctions to help you in identify how your triggers get lid up. Frustration is anger, just on a smaller scale. And aggression is anger on a larger scale.
Now, they serve crucial functions. Yes, believe it or not, they are helpful and have some good – if we choose to see it. Let’s go back to their internal scripts and identify the themes:
Cousin 1 – Frustration
- Script: “I can’t change the situation and it’s affecting my well-being.”
- Theme: UNMET NEEDS
How is it helpful? Well, as you begin to get frustrated, practice identifying what bothers you. Name it. Then, determine what you can do about it. If it’s out of your control, then let it go. There is always an unmet need. What is it? Learn to ask for help. Rewrite your script. For example, “Gosh, I slept four hours. No wonder I’m so irritable. When I get home, I am taking a bubble bath and going to bed early. It would help if my hubby picks up dinner. I will call and ask.”
God’s Word: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19 (ESV)
Cousin 2 – Anger
- Script: “Look what he did to me, he doesn’t love me, he don’t care about me.”
- Theme: HURT
How is it helpful? Well, take a look at what hurt you? Again, name it. Being aware of what bothers you is much more helpful than walking around grumpy and not knowing where its coming from. Are you able to tell the person that hurt you? What is the evidence you have that your script is true? If there is none, then maybe you need to evaluate your script. Replace it with a more realistic script. For example, “He did leave the room, but he always comes back and tells me he loves me. I will tell him how much it hurts me when he walks away.”
God’s Word: “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” – Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV)
Cousin 3 – Aggression
- Script: “I don’t know what to do! I feel threatened here. I need to protect myself.”
- Theme: FEAR
Now, at this point, whatever you say to yourself or what others say won’t be helpful. If cousin Aggression is already in the room, I’m sorry to say that it’s a bit too late. What needs to happen after cousin leaves the room is to evaluate the situation. This is done once you are calm again. Only then, can you really think about what you’ve done and what is going on internally for you. So, name the fears. What was so bad? Try to come up with a list of options. Maybe share them with someone who can give a more balanced perspective.
God’s Word: “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” – Matthew 26:52 (NIV)
If you don’t want these three culprits lurking your home, I suggest you try to identify some of the internal scripts, needs and behaviors you may be exhibiting. Once identified, it will be easier to express your needs and set proper boundaries. Don’t allow your anger to become sin by letting it stir and boil within your heart. Follow the Lord’s example by forgiving and not holding resentments. Overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Here’s the worksheet (Anger’s Two Cousins)
Rest in His Word: Psalm 145:8
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”(NIV)
- Go back and examine the three cousins. Make it a point to truly examine your heart in these three areas. Bring the scripts and themes to God so He can reveal to them to you.
- Find an accountability partner whom you trust. Share what you are learning, implementing as well as the daily struggles.
- Always pray for wisdom and self-control.
*Author’s Note: The term, “Anger’s Two Cousins,” originated from Paul White (Child Therapist).