Angry About Anger


An honest confession:

I struggle a lot with anger.

I’ve also been told that anger is wrong, so I tend to stuff it down. Eventually there’s a breaking point where it flies out like twice a year. I look pretty laidback and congenial until I have my semi-annual blow-up. It’s ugly. Embarrassing. Enough to make people leave forever.

Anger, of course, can be scary. I have thrown things. I have punched a wall. I have yelled uncontrollably. There’s no excuse for that sort of behavior and I deserve every consequence. People have a right to leave.

But I never knew there was a healthy kind of anger. That anger is pointing to something true, real, and valid. That it means something is very wrong around us or inside us, and it needs healing. At the very least, it needs to be heard.

No, we should never use anger as an excuse to hurt someone. It’s never okay to say, “I only did that because I was angry.” Nothing justifies abuse. Ever. We must be held accountable regardless of how we felt at the time.

I just wonder how we can talk about this in an honest way without totally writing off the angry person.

I’ve found that underneath rage is usually pain. Grief. A kind of hurt that has left us powerless.

The hard part is venting our anger in a way that’s constructive instead of explosive. The even harder part is to talk about it without people judging.

The common response is always condemning: “I knew he was terrible. His life is so good, he has no reason to be mad.” And maybe that’s true. But how can we correct this unless we talk about it? Aren’t there sometimes real reasons a person is mad? There must be a safe venue for an angry person to say, “I’m bitter, I’m resentful, I can’t forgive, and I don’t know what to do with this.”

My fear is that no one will make room for it. You can usually tell someone you’re insecure, sad, or lonely, and they’ll hear you. Tell someone you’re angry and they assume you’re a “bad person.” Sometimes angry people are also “bad people,” sure. But I wish we could find help for our rage without immediately being crushed and cast out. I wish we could talk through the stigma.

I think, in the end, that anger must have a place. You can be angry for instead of against. It can be motivated by justice. There are legitimate reasons to be righteously mad. A call for reparations. A proper outrage when someone is oppressed, exploited, abused. I wish I had known this sooner. I want to be angry for you, not at you. I hope there’s grace enough to learn how.

— J.S.

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5 thoughts on “Angry About Anger

  1. Everyone gets angry at times. It is usually better to deal with things at the time they happen to let off a little steam occasionally than to wait until the pressure cooker blows up and burns everyone with steam. Mostly anger comes from frustration. It is better to talk about frustration with someone you can trust than let it build. Some people have a goal of making unreasonable or unfair demands or criticisms just to make you angry. Consider who is controlling them. It is best to avoid these people as much as possible because they will hurt you spiritually. Are they trying to improve you or tear you down spiritually? Do they just want to tear you down spiritually to bring you down to their spiritual level? Are they criticizing you because you make less mistakes than they do? Does the reason for the complaint make someone else look bad like a sound teck that makes one instrument so loud the others can’t be heard so the musician gets fired?

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  2. Great article! One thing that my psychotherapist taught me is that anger can be expressed with gentleness. To talk about feelings of anger is a release (often simply telling someone “I’m angry with you”), whereas eruptions of anger are usually counter-productive.

    Thank you for sharing, it’s a really important topic!

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  3. There is a safe venue where a person can say, I’m bitter, I’m resentful, I can’t forgive.” I’m so glad the hotline to heaven is always open — and God sends back “strength for the day.” Power to neutralize acid, filter the salt out of our tears.

    One time I was totally overwhelmed with sorrow, grabbing for a tissue as I was about to burst into tears. Right then I felt Someone put His arm around me. And he spoke into my mind this verse: “And my God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” And just like that, my sorrow was gone and I felt at peace. A rare, but precious, experience!

    He can. We just have to ask him, and let him. But I’ve found there’s one answer that comes back often when I’m angry with someone’s behaviour: “These things that make you so furious, haven’t you said, done, or thought, exactly the same things at one time or another? Do you really have the right to throw these stones?” Ouch! But I’ve thanked God at times for that irritating comment or incident that upset me — and forced me to see myself in the other person’s actions.

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  4. I think that it helps to put our feelings into words, but sometimes that’s difficult to do. There’s nothing more frustrating than being upset and seeing that no one understands WHY I am so worked up. Like what was mentioned above, I’m thankful that God knows my thoughts. Thankful for His understanding and guidance – and forgiveness when I’m in the wrong.

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  5. Ephesians 4:26 – “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath”. We get mixed up about emotions because they are rooted in the flesh. If we are centred on Christ, not our pain or trouble, we can become indignant about injustice and our weakness without doing sin. Radical surrender to God is understated in Western culture, yet it is the only path to servanthood.
    Peace

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