Oh boy! Was it ever a fight. A verbal fight. Squinting through the strategically-angled slat blinds in my bedroom, I watched the two men—neither showing any signs of backing down—yell at each other, all the while balancing themselves on the roof trusses of the house that is being built on the other side of my backyard fence.
Although the entire heated exchange happened in a language not my own (yikes…I did hear a few words that seem to be the same in every language, if you know what I mean), their body language, tone and volume were evidence enough that these guys were angry. And I mean, spittin’ angry.
Within 5 or 6 minutes, their matter seemed to find some kind of resolution, and again the sounds of nail guns and saws dominated the local sound waves.
I smiled. I suppose in a way, this little angry outburst was a little bit of entertainment for me in the middle of my ordinary day. But it also made me think.
Like about a time a few years before my girls were married.
A long-anticipated box full of beautiful body care products and makeup finally arrived—and they waited for me to get home from work so that we could open it and enjoy all the girlie-girl stuff inside of it together. In great anticipation, they sat crossed-legged on Jenn’s bed. As soon as they heard the front door open, they excitedly yelled for me to join them.
On my way to their room, I noticed the lights that had been left on, the shoes that had not been put away, and the papers on the floor that had not made it to the garbage can.
There was no grace in my soul to be found that day. Instead, my inners were triggered by the am-I-the-only-one-who-does-something-around-this-place-? lie. Within a split second, my whole household knew that mama was angry. And I mean, spittin’ angry.
The aftermath of that afternoon gave me some of my first awarenesses of the ugly results of my anger.
- Anger sabotages my relationships: When I am angry, I hurt others. My words hurt others. My attitudes hurt others. My tone and body language hurts others. I know this for sure. Because still etched in my memory bank is the look of hurt and confusion in my daughters’ beautiful eyes. Their excitement, anticipation and desire to include me in this fun “girl” time quickly deflated and hung heavy over us.
- Anger skews my perspective: When I am angry, I think in extremes. This thinking rolls off my tongue when I use words like: “You NEVER…” or “I ALWAYS…” or “ALL of the time…” or “NONE of the time…”. When we use these extreme words in our fits of anger (or anytime for that matter), there is a very, very, VERY good chance we are telling ourselves—and others—a lie. Oh, and before we leave this point, remember the am-I-the-only-one-who-does-something-around-this-place lie I was triggered by? That is an example of my extreme thinking in full techno colour!
- Anger steals my energy: As I get older, I have become acutely aware that it takes longer for me to recover after large outputs of giving or ministry. For example, when Alan and I share hospitality in our home, although I love it, I need a quiet day very soon afterwards to recover. When I speak at a weekend retreat, although I love it, I need to be sure to book off a day shortly afterwards to recover. These times of rest and recovery are ways that I have learned to live my life wisely and are so life-giving to me. However, on the other hand, the negative effects on my mind, spirit and body from outputs and giving of anger steal my energy even more than the other scenarios I described above do, and it takes time for me to recover from feeling weary, regretful and unwise. Not at all life-giving.
We may not be airing our anger from the rooftops for all to observe—like those guys did that are building the house behind my home. But we do need to diligently pay attention to our anger, how it shows up in our life, and the way it effects our life:
- because in my experience, anger is often disguised as frustration. Or impatience. Or indifference. Or sarcasm. Or a dismissive attitude. Or rudeness. Or self-righteousness. Or fear. Or control. Or________________.
- because for sure, without a doubt in my mind, each time you and I are angry, it sabotages our relationships, skews our perspective, and steals our energy.
So, how is it that a gal goes about diligently paying attention to her anger?
- First of all, go to the Lord first, and ask Him to teach you.
I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel. Psalm 32:8 NLT
- Secondly, keep your mouth shut! When we are angry, we can sometimes feel compelled to “justify” our own actions by telling others about the “injustice” done to us so they better understand the reason why we are so “justifiably” angry—AKA: Gossip. That includes keeping your fingers “shut” too! Resist the urge to jump onto iMessage, email, or craft sly passive/aggressive social media updates. Telling others may momentarily make us feel better about ourselves, but unfortunately, it will also keep fuelling the hot broiler with us–and perhaps influence others to be unnecessarily angry (or gossips) as well. Bottom line: No good comes from passing our anger around! (Can I just hear a wee AMEN across cyber space right now?)
Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops. Proverbs 26:20 NLT
- Lastly, remember it’s not about you. Uh-huh! That’s a hard one. After all, you and I want it to be about us—at least SOME times! If we are really honest, we quite like it being about us. But let me tell you from my experience in the trenches of daily life, once pride rears it’s ugly head, anger is not far behind. Very soon something is going to happen that threatens our it’s-all-about-me philosophy. Something will happen that doesn’t meet our expectations. And yessiree, that will make us angry. Maybe even spittin’ angry! As my friend Tim McGraw says: Always Stay Humble And Kind. (Actually, he’s not really my friend—just thought I’d get your attention!) More—and MOST importantly, as our Heavenly Father says in His Word:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT
Humility and kindness.
Yes, that’s exactly what the people squinting through the strategically-angled slat blinds of their lives need to see coming from us as we stand on the rooftops of our daily lives!
Oh my goodness–YOU are amazing if you are reading this! You got to the end of a long post, and you have no idea how much I appreciate you for hanging out with me to the end! Before you go, do you have any strategies that help you live wisely when you are angry? I would love to hear them. Leave a comment below!