Faith and Values article for the Thomasville Times-Enterprise on Sunday, April 1, 2012
Have you ever been angry? That is a silly question, right? We’ve all been angry to varying degrees. The more complex question is “why?” I hope to shed some light on this topic because I feel dealing with anger is an issue that confronts every person. I’m no doctor or psychologist but I can share from my experience and study as an encouragement to you. Whether the source of anger is internal from within you or external from an outside source, it is a huge problem for many individuals in today’s world. I can honestly say I was never a very angry person. I kind of “rolled with the punches” and assumed that in the end it would all work out. However, several years ago I found myself struggling with an enormous amount of anger. I felt like “an angry alien” had taken over my body and mind! I wanted to throw things, spit, scream, say words not normally part of my vocabulary and cry, all at the same time. It was bad! I began to earnestly pray and ask for guidance concerning the anger I was feeling. I felt condemned, but at the same time I knew I was going to a God who loved me and had all the answers to my questions. I was led to a book entitled, The Anger Workbook by Drs. Les Carter and Frank Minirth. I began to faithfully study and learn about some of the reasons we get angry. I found three simple reasons that became a point of understanding for me as I sought to win the victory over the angry alien within. Anger is described as an emotion of self-preservation. Dr. Carter says, “Anger comes when you feel the need to clearly communicate that your personal boundaries have been violated.” There are three areas we try to preserve: personal worth, essential needs and basic convictions. In my case, all three areas were being violated and I was in full-blown preservation mode! Preserving personal worth becomes an issue when a person feels a lack of respect. When he or she feels rejected, invalidated or personal dignity is demeaned. In most cases perception is more powerful than intentions. It’s how we feel, not necessarily how another person meant to make us feel by their comments. The most important lesson we can ever learn concerns the source of our self-worth. In God’s eyes we are important and accepted. Ephesians 1:6 says, “To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (KJV) Essential needs have to do with basic survival needs, as well as, emotional well-being. The father who can’t provide for his family feels angry. The mother who has no time for emotional renewal feels angry. The young man or woman who can’t attend college because of lack of funds feels angry. Having our basic natural and emotional needs taken care of is important to walking in peace and joy. Our trust for essential needs must be placed in the Lord, especially during these difficult financial times. Matthew 6:26 issues this challenge, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (NKJ) Often I paraphrase this and say to myself when I am anxious, “am I not worth more than a bird?” The violation of basic convictions is an area where most of us struggle. The challenges to “right and wrong” have grown stronger in the past fifty years. I heard former President Jimmy Carter say, “In my campaign for the presidency all candidates referred to one another as “my honorable opponent”. Now mega bucks are needed to run campaigns of criticism and innuendo.” Most voters react angrily to this and some refuse to vote deeming it a violation of convictions to vote for anyone! Ask yourself this question the next time you feel angry. Am I angry because 1) my personal worth has been attacked or 2) because my essential needs aren’t being met or 3) because my personal convictions are being violated? Finding the source of your anger will help you navigate to the truth and to the freedom of walking in peace and joy.