My littlest dog is the most care free, happy creature I have meet. Yet she still gets angry. She will growl, bite and go after our other dog if he provokes her. She is defending herself. If even my dog who is neurologically not normal feels anger than how much more do we as humans feel angry.
When spending time with Christians I have heard comments about anger that say or imply that it is bad. That feeling anger is sinful. Or people say we should never get angry. As a young Christian I took these things as truth. As a result I denied, hide and covered my anger. This is just plain not healthy. Anger is an important emotion. It is an emotion that is natural. Jesus experienced anger. It is normal and I would say healthy to feel anger.
When dealing with past trauma and abuse I went years where I felt numbness. I felt nothing. This was not healthy. Through Counciling and therapy I started to regain some of my emotions. I started to feel anger. A lot of anger. Due to what I had been exposed to in the Christian Faith there was a part of me that was embarrassed by my anger. This was further exacerbated by others who seemed offended or uncomfortable by my anger.
Anger can be a good thing. It is part of the grieving process. It is something you have to allow yourself to feel, accept, work through and eventually give to God. This takes time, patience and awareness. On the other hand, ignoring, denying and hiding the anger is what leads to unhealthy behaviors and uncontrolled anger that destroys. People lash out for no reason and hurt others due to their hidden anger.
So how should we as Christians deal with our anger? For God is very clear in scripture that he wants us to deal with it and not allow it to control us. I do not know that there is one correct answer. For different people deal with anger differently. Furthermore it is a process, not something you just decide and puff the anger is gone. What I have learned helps me is having something physical active to release my anger in non-harmful way. Talking about my anger with people I trust and counselors has been essential. Praying to God and asking for wisdom on how to use my anger towards positive things and bringing about positive change helps turn my anger into something good rather than destructive. Anger can be a tool for bringing about positive change. It can fuel us in healthy ways when our eyes are turned on Jesus. It can be used to build God’s kingdom rather than tear down.
When I give myself the space and permission to feel my anger and work on it with counselors, community and God then what was originally a gigantic mass of destruction within me becomes a refined flame to bring about positive change, healing and building of God’s kingdom. To me this is where I find peace and resolution of my anger. I no longer deny my anger, wish it away or try to get ride of it. No I take it to God and let him refine it into the flame that will be a light to Jesus.
Let’s be a church community that stops encouraging people to hide and deny their anger. Rather let’s give people space and permission to let God take their anger and refine it into a refined light. Then maybe people will experience healing and restoration rather than hopeless defeat. Anger is not sin but failing to acknowledge it and letting it turn into destruction is. The church needs to do a better job at helping people rather than shaming and judging.