Do you get angry easily?
Your answer might be: “Yes.” In fact, most folks have a problem with anger. And this problem transfers into our homes in some very ugly ways. Think of the last big blow-up in your home. What was it over? What was it about?
Have you got that scene in your mind? Okay. Will that issue matter 50 years from now? I doubt it. I just thought through some situations in my home and truly, it won’t matter 3 months from now. We know that anger bad. It can make us sick…cause heart attacks…give us ulcers.
In his book, “The Healing of Anger,” Tim Keller says: “Anger is love in motion to deal with a threat to someone or something we truly care about.” It is right that we get angry if someone steals an old lady’s purse on the street. It’s right for us to be angry with what’s happening to the young teenage girls who have been kidnapped in Nigeria. It’s right for us to get angry about a lot of things. But, we’re told in Scripture, “in your anger, do not sin.” Easier said than done.
I’m not going to argue whether anger is right or wrong. I’m not here to talk about “righteous indignation” or Jesus turning over the money-changer’s tables in the Temple. I want to address how to overcome the discord, hurt and pain that occurs in so many of our homes on a daily basis.
Do you find yourself getting annoyed at the simplest, almost insignificant things? In his book, Keller explains:
There’s nothing wrong with being ticked — getting angry to a degree — if somebody slights your reputation, but why are you ten times — a hundred times — more angry about it than some horrible violent injustice being done to people in another part of the world?
Do you know why? . . . Because . . . if what you’re really looking to for your significance and security is people’s approval or a good reputation or status or something like that, then when anything gets between you and the thing you have to have, you become implacably angry. You have to have it. You’re over the top. You can’t shrug it off.
Do you find yourself getting angry about insignificant things? Somebody says something derogatory about you on social media or you feel unappreciated at home or work… How do you handle that? Do you know what the real problem is?
The bottom line is that maybe we just love ourselves too much.
As I read some of Keller’s book, I liked what he said to do when we feel anger coming on us like a tidal wave. He encourages us stop and ask: “What is this big thing that’s so important to me that I get this defensive?” What am I loving so much right now that my heart is moved to feel angry? “If you ask that question,” says Keller, “if you do this analysis, more often than not you’ll immediately be embarrassed, because many, many times the thing you’re defending is your ego, your pride, your self-esteem.”
So, let’s be honest with ourselves and the Lord. Let’s look at what is constantly making us mad. Is it because you see yourself in a bad light? For instance, some of us are angry because our kids are making us look bad in public and we see that as a bad reflection of our parenting. So we snap. Maybe you are angry because you see everyone else getting ahead and you just keep falling behind? Maybe you are angry because your spouse doesn’t “get” how you feel or your family “just doesn’t understand.”
Okay, one more time…
What’s making you angry? What’s got you anxious right now?
Are you looking at the situation in light of how it’s going to make you look? Is it really an issue with your ego? (Believe me…I’m thinking about this right now. :)) Am I thinking too highly of myself? Usually that’s my problem with my anger.
One other thought.
Have you considered the situation of the person who is making you angry? What’s going on in their life? Why are they acting they way they are? This doesn’t mean that we should excuse their actions. But, perhaps they have a wrong grid from which they are thinking and making decisions. That might explain why they are doing or saying what they are. I think of the words of Jesus, “Father, forgive them…they don’t know what they are doing.”
We just slapped up a new verse to memorize at our house…
I’ve found that talking helps the most. When is the last time you had a little “team meeting.” Just pulled the family together and turned off the TV and just talked. You can do this just taking a walk… It doesn’t have to be a “big deal” and some “somber” meeting.
Problem is: So often today we handle stuff even in our families with text messages and emails and quick little jabs and we just don’t sit down and talk. I’m convinced that if we will simply sit down and talk (face to face), we will solve most of our problems.
Why not do that. Plan it. Make it happen. Love your family. Talk, talk, talk…