Have you ever tried to swallow down the rumblings of anger and aggression, but it explodes anyway? Even though you know you will regret it later, you just cant help it. So, aggression booms, regret comes as promised, and we hang our heads before God. God, Im so sorry, please help me and take this anger away from me. Im so gross and sinful. Forgive me, Lord.
Wait. Before we coast into the harbour of shame, let’s take a second look at these emotions.
Emotions are a gift. Happiness, excitement, sadness etc. They are part of the human experience. Anger in itself is not sin. It alerts us. Like a street sign, anger signals to us that something is wrong with a situation, an injustice is occurring. We need to take action. How we respond to this emotion affects us and others positively or negatively.
If outward aggression is our go-to response, unleashing it on those we love (or should love) causes pain and fractured relationships. Anger is a feeling; aggression is a behavior.
There’s a gap between the anger tripping situation and the aggressive snap. In the gap, self talk instigates our next move. This person (or persons) doesn’t respect me. No one cares what my side is. Therefore I’m not important or important enough.
A Typical Mom Blow-up.
Based on a true story…
We have to be somewhere at a certain time and we’re off to a good start. Today, much of the laundry is washed, dried, laying in piles tucked behind the laundry room door waiting to be folded, or, more likely, rummaged through for an outfit. It is hiding after all.
I planned my outfit the night before. The baby is easy. I just drape her in a cute dress from the closet and she looks darling. The bigger girls can dress themselves.
Today they get silly. Middle girl wants to choose little girl’s outfit, and big girl wants to stay in her pajamas.
Uh, no. Artistic expression has its limits, big sister.
I try herding them to brush teeth, and squeeze them into something other than footie pajamas or birthday suits. Brushes are brandishing. Garments litter the floor and little people slip through my fingers. Giggles echo through our halls behind crowns of brown flowy locks swirling in the mayhem.
I am not laughing. I had a plan. I wanted to get there on time and feel accomplished. (Its the little things that satisfy a mom.)
I finally have people semi-dressed when the fighting starts. “She hit me.” “She was touching me.” And the circus of running circles around the house resumes. I have completely lost control of them and my emotions follow.
I have no idea how I get them in the car, but if my neighbors are witnessing any of this, I just hope they have had a day like this before.
We are late. I’m tired and sweaty. I forgot to put on my earrings. But who cares now. I run back in to grab the baby’s sandals, return to the car, and peel out of the driveway.
From behind the steering wheel, I lay into the kids. My voice is so loud my throat burns. I feel disrespected. I fell short in my mission to get out on time. I don’t even want to go now.
I try to recoil my rant before it seethes fully into the car. I fail.
Silence is the only sound now. It’s what I wanted, but not this way.
My plan for the morning didn’t matter to the kids. I am unimportant, unappreciated and disrespected.
But is that who I am?
I responded to the situation from a place of fractured identity. If I can restore my God given identity to my thinking and heart, I can deal with life’s inevitable conflict from a place of vulnerability, forgiveness, and love.
There are 3 things we can do to prevent the healthy emotion of anger from boiling into steamy spits of aggression. This isn’t something we do when the anger hits. The following is what you do now, sitting here alone on your phone with a few moments to connect with God.
1. Go Back to the Original Offender.
This first step is the hardest. When was the first time you felt disrespected, undervalued or taken advantage of? Take time here and ask Him to bring it to your memory.
Who betrayed you? Who was the first to strip you of your value?
Did you have an addicted parent. An absent parent. A physically, emotionally or sexually abusive family member or neighbor? Was it a teacher or a friend. Maybe it was one comment, said one time, long ago that has impacted your view of yourself all these years.
Write down what you feel as you think about how they offended you. Forgotten. Ashamed. Abandoned. Unimportant. Unsafe, Etc.
It gets harder right here, but this is the key. Forgiveness. You might feel your guts tighten and your heart chill inside your chest cavity. Self preservation is strong. You are exactly right. What they did is absolutely wrong. Their actions don’t deserve your forgiveness, but you deserve it. It will change you, so you can finally be free.
Forgiveness will not be easy. It’s going to hurt and feel unnatural. But God will help you. Your first step is to be willing to forgive even if you don’t feel like it is possible. Look God in His loving eyes and say, “Ill take a chance with You. Help me in the process of forgiving _____________ for ______________.”
2. Change the name you call yourself.
Your identity is Loved. Rip off the old labels. God will fill it with your new name. How did the experiences from step one make you feel?
In the way.
Not important enough.
A Lost Cause.
Fill in the blank ______________.
Once you identify the old labels, check out these upgrades.
Our Identity as God’s Kids:
Chosen as parents.
Made in His image.
Created for good things.
Filled with God.
The list goes on.
Wear these with pride. Can you say this out loud about yourself? Put “I am” in front of all the new labels and say it. Keep practicing. These will replace the old labels. You will notice it in the way you carry yourself and interact with others.
Healing takes time. You were hurting for so long. Full healing doesn’t come with one scripture reading or one prayer. But it starts there. One drop at a time is how a medicine bag is filled. Keep pouring those drops into yourself until you don’t need them anymore. Then it starts spilling out onto other hearts who need to heal too. Be healed and pass it on.
3. Notice the Holy Spirit’s Lead.
After steps one and two have been practiced for a while, you will start to see a change when anger arrives. The aggression may boil like before but now you will hear the still small voice.
“It’s ok. You are safe. I Am here with you. Your kid, your husband, friend, your neighbor is not your enemy right now. They probably don’t realize their actions trigger these old labels to flash across your thinking. Even if it still feels horrible, I Am here. You are level headed because you are Loved. You can be patient in this situation because you know I have your best in mind. It may not be working out as you planned, but nothing can stop My ultimate plan.”
You breath in. You breath out. The aggression evaporates.
Conflict and our True Identity
Now we can address the reason why healthy anger rose up in the first place.
We can forgive the person in front of us causing the anger to signal. We can now see, objectively, how to work out the situation. Instead of putting up our dukes, we let down our guard and lean in to love them.
Our kids now have a level headed parent who can help them be healthy citizens of the planet. Those blogs, books and sermons will come in handy now. We can identify where they need to grow without interpreting their behavior as a personal offense on us.
My husband has a team mate now. Not an antagonist or a defector. I can love him now like Colossians 3:12-16 says to.
My boss has someone he can trust. My friend has an steady confidant. My neighbor has someone she can have open, honest discussions with.
Standing strong in our identity, we aren’t arguing from a place of defense and self protection. We are forgiving, vulnerable and loving. We are now able to maintain and restore relationship, connection and intimacy with those we want to love.
You are important. Love yourself today. And pass this on to someone who needs it too.