When my wife and I were dating I had a big anger problem. I wasn’t violent or physical, but when a big guy gets angry it can be intimidating and scary. It got to the point where I would get furious about little things just because it was hot (which made the summer months difficult). Eventually my wife, then girlfriend, told me that if I didn’t figure out this anger issue then she would break up with me. She did not want to be around someone who could not control their emotions.
My father had anger issues, as did his father. I knew that the example of being angry had been passed down to me, but that didn’t help me much. Identifying the influence only gets us so far; I needed help. I was able to get some free counseling through my church and worked through some of my anger issues. In time I recognized that I had a lot of pent up anger towards God because my mother died when I was 15. I was playing the victim and I wanted the world to know when I thought things weren’t fair (some people call this your 20s).
Anger is a powerful emotion, but it’s also a subtle deception. We can deceive ourselves into thinking it’s okay to keep feeling angry about something because we were in the right. We can think to ourselves,”I know that I’ve already thought through this issue in its entirety, but I’m right about it, so it’s okay to still feel enraged.”
Whether or not we were wronged in some way, anger is only useful when it identifies a wrong. Once that wrong has been identified, anger is only destructive. When we let our anger build up after the wrong has been identified, we lash out in ways that we may regret.
Anger can cloud our judgement to the point where we enjoy the feeling of being enraged. The addiction to feeling justifiably angry is incredibly unhealthy. Feeling angry about the same issue over and over again isn’t therapeutic; it’s just a way to feel good about being upset with someone or something.
Be angry, then get over it. Remember that anger, like any emotion, can be controlled. If you have an anger problem, get help from someone who is qualified to help you work through those issues. Most of all, when that pain or annoyance comes back, don’t give into the temptation to run through the argument in your head or tell the story again. Jesus tells us to forgive each other seventy times seven times because he knows that the pain and the anger will come back. Listen to the Spirit of God and remember to forgive others and be generous with grace and mercy.