How should Christians deal with anger? Dr. Jim offers advice on how to release yourself from this destructive emotion. He gives a personal account about how he dealt with similar feelings.
Dear Jim: How do I deal with the anger I am feeling?
Anger is not a sin! It is what we do with this emotion that may cause us to sin, but the emotion itself is not a sin. Christ was angry – but His anger was directed toward sin. It is okay to be angry against sin, but we often find ourselves angry for other reasons. Ephesians 4:26 instruct us to be angry, but to not sin or let the sun go down on our anger. We need to do something about it for it makes a super bad bedfellow!
There is an exercise that some counsellors use that may be helpful if you desire to find a way to deal with anger in you. Allow me to share this exercise for your consideration:
G I F T
Each of the letters represent an underlying emotion that provoke anger –
G – Guilt
I – Inferiority
F – Fear
T – Trauma or pain
1. What is the behavior that my ____________ does that triggers my anger?
When my ___________ does this, I feel this way ______________ .
2. Identify the root of this anger using the G I F T exercise.
Is it Guilt? Inferiority? Fear? Trauma or Pain?
3. Ask yourself, when have I ever felt this feeling before? (Look for a past occurrence, preferably in childhood.)
4. What do I do when I feel this feeling?
What is my behavior?
5. What do I really need? What am I really asking for?
Often being enlightened to the root cause of our emotions helps us to come to terms with it in a healthy manner.
Although I did not deal with anger, I did something similar with the feelings of abandonment. Here is how it worked out for me:
Dealing with my own anger/abandonment.
My parents divorced when I was 5 years old and our father and step-mother raised my younger sister and me. I felt like the male Cinderella in our home life. It was a very disturbing emotional place for me (and my sister).
In counselling, (I think in word pictures!!) one day I saw a little boy who was inside a prison cell. There was an older boy outside the cell in a beautiful meadow, inviting the younger boy to come out and play. The young boy was shaking his head and saying, ‘No way, it is scary out there!’ The older boy continued to coax the younger one to come out of the cell – and the younger boy eventually responded.
I realized that I was both the younger AND the older boy in this story. As the younger me took steps out of the cell and into the beautiful world, I kept looking back to the cell – for some reason wanting to return. Finally the older boy walked with me to the cell door, reached inside and turned on a LIGHT! I did not know that there was a switch there!!! The light flooded the cell and I found, much to my surprise, that there were no gremlins or evil spirits lurching in the dark. It had all been in my mind!
Result: With the guidance of my counsellor, I realized that my emotional development had been stopped at age 5 and I had been living (now 50) all these years in the cell. There were parts of my emotions that had never taken a normal process of maturing. Now I was ‘released’ to go and PLAY (responsibility of course!) and develop all of me. It was a VERY freeing time.
God and I want you to find the release from whatever ‘imprisons’ you. If it is anger, try the exercise above over a period of time. If you are not able to discover what is the root cause, then I encourage you to find a good Christian counsellor to serve as a guide as YOU make this discovery.
Satan wants us trapped in bad thoughts and emotions. He “traps” us there by our defaulting to him. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that Satan is walking about this earth seeking whom he may devour. 1 John 4:9 shares that greater is HE who is in us than he who is in the world (greater is God than Satan)!!!
James 4:7 tell us to be subject to God; resist the devil and he will flee from us!! Claim this promise and act like the Child of God that you are.
May God guide you into wonderful discoveries of freedom – total freedom in Him!!