The greatest teacher in the world said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). This book is designed to get at the truth about our anger so that you and those you love can be set free.
It’s amazing what we do when we’re angry. We may blow up in haste at a boss: “I’m tired of being treated this way! You can take this job and shove it. I’m out of here!” Then a little later on the phone: “Uh, honey, I lost my job. Yeah, I know we have a lot of bills. No, my boss really doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.”
Or we may shut down in silence: “Honey, what’s wrong? Please tell me. Please talk to me. Did I do something wrong? What’s eating at you?”
Or we may gossip and get back indirectly: “Did you hear what she did? Can you believe it? I wouldn’t want to judge, but I think what she did was ungodly and foolish. I wouldn’t share this if I wasn’t concerned. Of course, I’m not affected personally.”
We make a lot of bad decisions when we’re angry. When we get out a sword of anger, we cut people by shutting them out or by knocking them over. Many of the scars we inflict, whether directly or indirectly, are not easily healed.
Solomon, an ancient king known for his wisdom, wrote many sayings. “A hot-tempered person commits many sins” (Prov. 29:22 TNIV), he warned. When angry, we are more apt to do something wrong. We often have wrong reactions and do dumb deeds. We say things that shouldn’t be said, we lash out and hurt people, we do things we abhor, we build up fortresses to keep others out, or we project our anger onto undeserving souls. We generally react in ways that intensify rather than relieve our anger. We end up inviting either self-hatred and shame (internalized anger) or resentment and bitterness (externalized anger) into our hearts.
Have you been scared and scarred by the anger, rage, screaming, and abuse of other people? It’s painful to be on the receiving end of someone’s emotional outburst.
Or have you found yourself more often on the giving end? Do you need help controlling and containing your anger?
Do you stuff your anger and pretend you don’t have a problem because you keep it from showing? Have you held your feelings in for years, developing ulcers, headaches, intestinal problems, and other kinds of physical ailments?
Do you assume blame when you or others get mad?
Do you automatically blame others? When you’re mad or someone is mad at you, do you assume, without question, that the other person is to blame??
Do you find yourself avoiding people when you’re mad? Do you seek ways to get back indirectly?
Whether we blame ourselves or others, whether we express or repress, whether we avoid or attack, anger still exists. It doesn’t go away. It just comes out in different ways.
The Benefits of Dealing with Anger
When we learn to effectively experience and deal with our anger, we find that our relationships are healthier, our work is less stressful, and our lives are more enjoyable. We have fewer diseases and physical complaints, and we have less need to control, avoid, or defend ourselves in relationships. Instead of taking our anger out negatively on ourselves or on those around us, we learn to direct it in ways that are helpful rather than harmful. Rather than blame ourselves, God, our parents, the boss, coworkers, our spouses, our children, or friends, we can learn to constructively identify the source and nature of our feelings.
Anger has great power for both good and bad and should be dealt with in ways that are constructive rather than destructive. We need to face our anger and force ourselves to deal with it. As we confront our anger, we develop clearer boundaries in our relationships; we experience open, honest communication; and we are better in tune with our own needs and desires.
The Bottom Line
Anger is a pervasive problem, but there’s hope in learning how to deal with it.
Questions to Consider
- Do you or someone you know have a problem with anger?
- What have you/they done about it?
- What has worked or been helpful in bringing about positive change? What hasn’t worked?
Action Steps to Take
- Think about a time when you got angry, and identify as specifically as you can how you should have responded differently.
- Ask someone you trust to tell you about a time when they saw you get angry. Ask them to tell you how they think you express anger and when you are most likely to become angry.
- On an index card, write a few statements regarding what you hope to learn from this book. Then sign the card and put it in a conspicuous place where you will see it often.
Copyright © 20098 by Chip Ingram, Used with Permission, Published by Baker Books. Adapted from Overcoming Emotions That Destroy.