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Time to Lose Some Baggage

 
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I’ve been “spittin’ mad” all day.  She has wronged my child!  She has hurt her!  And this mama is not going to take it.  I’ve been pacing around this house since I got up.  I get upstairs and I have no idea why I went up there.  At one point in time, I put the milk in the pantry - because my thoughts are consumed with my anger!  I have had a dozen imaginary conversations with the culprit.   

I’ve heard someone say that anger gives a false sense of energy – but it is energy nonetheless and it can give a sense of strength and power.  Let’s face it.  Anger can feel good.  I’ve said before that I can wrap myself up in my anger like a cozy, warm blanket and I can use my anger to invigorate my day.

But when I read in Ephesians 4:26 and 27, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil,” I am not surprised.  When I am having my imaginary conversations, it is never kind words that I am delivering.  As I pace around my house, it is never good things that I am playing over and over again in my heart and mind.  In fact, if I am honest, I can almost feel myself giving Satan a foothold in my day. 

Hebrews 12:15 cautions, “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”  Do you see the progression?  At first, the bitterness that anger creates just troubles us personally.  When I am wrestling with anger, I will often write on my hand or stick on my refrigerator,

 “We don’t hold a grudge.  A grudge holds us.”

At times, our anger may feel good.  But it never stays feeling good.  And let’s be clear.  If we do not allow God to control our anger, our anger will absolutely control us.  And then look at the progression that is identified in Hebrews 12:15.  Our root of bitterness can corrupt many.  Anger is never self-contained.

This is what I have learned the hard way.  You just cannot, no matter how hard you try or how experienced you are, contain your anger.  It’s not like a hose that you can target on the violator. Rather, our anger just keeps spilling out all over the place and eventually, all over everyone.

I’m not angry at my kids.

It was no big deal that they bagged my groceries that way.

What my husband said/did was not offensive.

My friend was just kidding.

It’s just I am not in control of my anger.  I may like carrying it around like a cute accessory – but it is NOT working for me!

So what do I do about it?  What do you do about it?  Anger is a natural reaction.  As far as I can tell, the emotion of anger is not a sin.  It happens.  But our Heavenly Father is clear.  We were not built to carry our anger.  If we try to do so, it can destroy

Our marriages                                                        Dating relationships

Our relationship with our kids                               Ourselves

Friendships

As much as we can bristle at the idea, God is telling us to get rid of our “junk” for our own good and for the good of the relationships that we treasure.  Look farther down in Ephesians 4.

“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.”

I know.  I know.  Who wants to be kind, or tenderhearted, or forgiving when you are “stinkin’ mad”??  But tucked inside these verses is the formula for anger management:

1.     Get rid of it.  You may have every reason to be mad but we simply weren’t built to carry anger.  It is too much for us.  It is too big a weight and it will always lead to trouble.  I visualize putting all of my reasons for anger in a giant suitcase and then asking God to carry it.  “Here’s how they wronged me.  Here’s how they wronged my child.  Here’s what they took from me.”  Talk it over with your God.  Give it to Him.

2.     Quit focusing on your anger.  It is so destructive!  We have to intentionally, with great discipline, take our focus off of anger and put it on good things like showing kindness, and being compassionate, and forgiving.

3.     The only way that we can successfully do that is by choosing to focus on what God through Jesus has done for us.  We have to quit recounting over and over what that person has done to us and start focusing on what good things our Heavenly Father does for us every single day.

4.     Still angry?  Anger came back?  Then rinse and repeat.  And here’s a little bonus truth.  The sooner we engage in this formula for anger management, the better.  That’s why it says not to let the sun go down before you deal with it.  Otherwise, you give Satan a way to get into the situation.  That’s why the Bible calls it a “root of bitterness.”  Left to itself, it will deepen, becoming increasingly difficult to pull out of your life, and causing more and more damage the deeper it is allowed to grow.

The truth is we don’t hold a grudge.  A grudge holds us.  So if you’ll excuse me, I have some luggage to pack.

*Devotional taken from Relay of Truth, available on our store link.

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Erin Pfister