So says the apostle Paul in EPHESIANS, and Let not the sun go down on your wrath. In other words, work it out before the day’s end, or whosoever, warns Yahshua, is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…whosoever shall say, “Thou fool” shall be in danger of hellfire. If we call someone stupid or an idiot we can be going to Hell! Yahshua also likens anger to murder. So why does Paul write the above, Be angry, and sin not?
There are legitimate reasons to be angry and equally legitimate ways in which to express that anger. As for me, I had what my husband referred to as a psychotic temper. As of about a year and a half ago I managed to overcome it. That was no small or easy feat, for I had a bad temper from very early childhood. Despite intense delving over the almost fifty years of it, how I came to have it eluded me. Unlike many, I did not have an anger problem. I didn’t go around hitting, yelling, or saying nasty words to people. When I would become angry, I would explode like a volcanic eruption into screaming what I needed to say. Sometimes it would be accompanied by name-calling, and occasionally with swearing. As quickly as I said my piece, it would be gone. I would be calm again, if a little embarrassed.
Over the years I had prayed earnestly for deliverance. As a little girl I can remember throwing things like hair brushes when I could not get the knots out of my long hair, breaking windows when I’d punch them, and kicking holes in the shower wall if the water went cold, for example. My long-suffering mother bought me a hairbrush so strong it wouldn’t break when I threw it! She never berated me. I guess she was used to it, for her father had a bad temper, so my grandmother said. Perhaps that’s from whom I inherited it. Demons can be passed down through a family blood line.
As I grew up I managed step-by-step to improve my behaviour. First went the throwing things and punching walls. Eventually I got it down to just screaming. My children put up with it for many years. What else could they do? It didn’t seem to bother them all that much. When I lost it with them we would have a bit of an argument, with them eventually doing whatever it was I was screaming at them to do. It was simply how I expressed myself. The screaming was the most obstinate part of my temper. I tried for years to overcome it, without success. But when I finally did, it didn’t take that long. I had to identify the major reasons why I lost it. They were: when people failed to listen to me, when I was put down or treated like a ‘dumb blonde’, and any sort of messiness in my house.
I had read many books about overcoming anger. Words in a book didn’t seem to work for me. The author of one book, however, pointed out that it is an accepted belief among some, especially men, that women shouldn’t GET angry. Because they are women. They should be forever feminine, demure, and quiet. I repeated this to my husband. He was not impressed, and quickly changed to subject. Apparently HE was allowed to get angry, but I wasn’t.
In our family, there were three of us, my boys and me, who expressed our anger openly. There was my husband who thought only men had a right to get angry, and would yell just as much as me, later, like me, smashing things when alcohol became involved. Then there was a passive aggressive in our family. These personality types never openly show their anger. They appear to be meek, mild, and perfect. But underneath they are simmering with repressed resentments. Passive aggression results when a child is controlled and dominated by an emotionally bullying parent or parents. Usually the child is forbidden from being angry, as like the woman not allowed to be angry, anger is considered naughtiness. They instead stuff the anger. But anger by its nature must come out. It will do so through illnesses, and passively, through nastiness like back-stabbing.
This person’s behaviour would infuriate me, so I would scream at Anthony an unspoken plea to please DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM. MAKE ME FEEL I AM IMPORTANT TO YOU. In the end it was me who did something, to myself.
The angry outbursts plainly not working, when I felt one coming on I would grab my keys and drive off. I’ve been known to stay out sleeping in the car overnight, but mostly I drove down to the park for a while to cool off. Then I would drive home. I remember making a conscious decision once I was a bit more in control not to get in the car anymore. Next I’d walk off. Natasha was the only person in our family with a room to herself and oodles of cupboard space. One time I walked into her room and had to walk over strewn clothes, mobile phone, books, bags, and stuff, so I asked Anthony to request she clean it up as it was also my sewing room. He mocked me. I threw my shoes at him and stomped off barefoot. It took me about five kilometres to cool down. Except for my feet. I normally have tough feet but as we were forbidden to go barefoot outside so we wouldn’t dirty the inside carpet, they had become soft. Consequently the skin burnt off the soles of my feet as I crossed the hot summertime roads. Arriving back home after dinner would have finished, I had blisters on blisters. I never told anyone.
Next I decided not to leave the house when I got angry. I would mostly go under our house, and pray or read the Bible. All the time Father would say to me, “Quiet your spirit, quiet your spirit.” Until one day my spirit was always quiet and I didn’t get angry anymore. By then I could listen to any amount of mockery, abuse, or foul language and remain unmoved. Interestingly, Anthony who hated my psychotic temper, didn’t even notice when it wasn’t there anymore and I didn’t scream for about six months before he kicked me out because of it! Today I can go into Gabriel’s very messy room, get angry about it, walk out, get over it in about a minute, then very calmly tell him to clean it up or he will not go to his friend Mitch’s party on Friday night. Or some such consequence.
The legitimate or mature way to express anger is to go to the person at whom we are angry. Calmly tell them we are angry at them for such and such a reason. DO NOT say, “You make me angry.” Own your own anger. It is yours, not theirs. Don’t expect anything from them. The point is that they know you are angry and hurt by their behaviour towards you. Finally and most importantly, forgive them and release them from whatever they have done. And do it before the sun goes down. Before you get cold feet. Or hot feet! As soon as possible anyway. It takes courage and humility, but it is worth it. There are too many wars in the world as it is.