I have some dear friends, and together, we make it a point to get together once or twice a year to catch up and pray for one another. Years ago during one of our hangouts, my head hung down in shame. “I … uhm … I’m struggling with …” Oh, just let it out, I told myself. After a deep breath, I said it, “I’m struggling with being angry at the kids.”
To my surprise, there were no disapproving looks, no shocked “How could you?” They all looked at me with empathy and said “Me too.” At the time, I was a fairly new mother, and I realized for the first time, that the struggles I had were common to many moms. I wasn’t a monster after all.
But this newfound knowledge did not eliminate the problem. Unrighteous anger still reared its ugly head, and it had to be defeated quickly. The longer we hold on to anger, it will eat us up from the inside out and destroy others around us.
Perhaps by identifying some of the most common reasons why we still cling to anger, we can begin to take steps in the other direction and loosen the grip it has on our hearts.
Here are 5 reasons why we may fail to deal with our anger in a swift manner.
It feels good.
It doesn’t feel good the way a relaxing bath feels good or the way the gentle breeze cools your skin on a hot day. Holding on to your anger feels good only to you because it indulges your desire to have certain emotions towards another. But let me warn you. This pleasure is fleeting.
I want to hurt the other person.
We’ve been hurt, so we naturally want to hurt back. And at the moment, vengeance seems to be the only viable option. But is it really beneficial? If there’s a way to reconcile, pursue it. If not, let it go and don’t bind yourself unnecessarily to an endless cycle of hurting one another. “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1). Don’t let your vengeful words tear down even those closest to you.
I want to be right.
Often, we think that leaving our anger behind means that we’ve admitted our wrong, and worse, we’ve admitted that the other person is right. Let me just say this because I’ve been there. If you are truly in the right, you will not persuade the other person of that if you are letting loose your wrath. “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.” (Prov 14:17)
I’m not getting what I want
My kids do this all the time. My 3-year-old has begun kicking and fake crying to get his way, “I. want. that. toy.” But don’t we do the same thing minus the kicking and phony tears? Do you know one of the main reasons why I thank God for blessing me with my children? It is because He holds them up as a mirror before me, showing me how I can be before Him, my Heavenly Father.
I don’t know where to start
Maybe you’ve been angry for so long that you’re not sure how to peel all the layers of bitterness, hurt, revenge, wrong thoughts, rage, and frustration. The absolute best thing I can do for you is to point you to the One who is the maker and keeper of your heart. Calming techniques and anger management methods may help, but if the root problem is in your heart, you need God. He will pull you out from the mire of anger. He will enable you to love and forgive. And, He will grant you the strength to overcome.
What are other wrong reasons we can have to holding on to our anger?