Category: Anger

Love Our Enemies

Can you really love a spouse who has been unfaithful to you? One lady who was reading my book Hope for the Separated, told me that when she came to the chapter on “long distance love” that she threw the book on the floor and said to herself, “I’ll never love him again after all he’s done to me.”

“A few days later”, she said, “ I  picked up the book and continued reading. I discovered that Jesus said that we were to ‘love our enemies’. Well my husband certainly qualified. It took a few weeks, but I remember the day I baked him a pie and took it to his apartment. It was the beginning of our process of reconciliation.” Yes, with the help of God we can love those who hurt us deeply.

What Can I Do To Help?

It is hard to reject sincere acts of service. A young husband once told me that for the first month after the wedding, his wife served him breakfast in bed. He said, “It took me a month to get up the courage to tell her that I don’t eat breakfast.” I did a little research some time ago and found out that not a single wife has ever murdered her husband while he was washing dishes.

What is your attitude toward your spouse?  In the early years of my marriage, I made demands of my wife and gave her harsh words when she did not respond. Later I learned that Jesus had a better plan. He said, “I did not come to be served, but to serve.” When I learned to ask: What can I do to help you? The whole atmosphere of my marriage changed.

Try Writing

If you find it difficult to share your feelings with your spouse, try writing your thoughts and feelings in a letter to your spouse. Many times it is easier to write than it is to speak. When you become comfortable writing the letters and your spouse responds with comfort and encouragement, you will eventually learn to verbalize your feelings.

Writing can be a big step in the process of learning how to communicate openly about your ‘inner self’. After writing a few letters, you might try reading the letter to your spouse. Step by step you can learn to share your thoughts and feelings. A listening ear on the part of your spouse often provides the encouragement to continue to communicate.

Are Negative Emotions Sinful?

The non-communicating spouse is not always the husband. I remember the husband who said to me, “My wife keeps everything inside.  She simply shuts down, especially when she is hurt or angry.” Later in the counseling office, his wife said, “I wish I didn’t get angry, and depressed. I hate myself when I feel that way.”

I discovered that this wife had been taught as a child that Christians don’t get angry or depressed. When I told her that Jesus experienced both anger and depression she was shocked. Negative emotions are not sinful. The fastest way to process these feelings is to talk about them. When we talk about them, they tend to go away. When we hold them inside, they tend to stay.

Why the Silent Treatment?

If you have ever received the ‘silent treatment’ from your spouse, how did you respond? Did you remain silent also? Or, did you lash out in anger and demand that your spouse talk to you? Neither of these extremes is likely to make things better. The answer lies in understanding why your spouse has gone silent.

Sometimes it is an effort to control your behavior. You are doing something that they don’t like and they are trying to make you miserable. On the other hand it may be that they have difficulty sharing negative feelings of hurt or disappointment. If you discover and address the reason behind the behavior, you are likely to have more success in re-establishing conversation.

Becoming Friends with Your Feelings

I often hear people ask, “How are you feeling today?” The common answer is, “Fine.” It was a good question, but not a good answer. Why do we ignore our feelings, or camouflage them with such words as “fine” or “not so well”? Feelings are a part of who we are. We have emotions because we are made in the image of God.

How dull life would be if we had no feelings. Imagine watching a sunset, a ball game, or the ocean and feeling no emotion. Feelings are a gift from God to help us enjoy life and process life and pain. Certainly at times we feel lonely, disappointed, and frustrated, but these emotions push us to take constructive action. Pause and thank God for whatever emotion you are presently feeling. Ask Him to guide your actions.

Some Christians are critical of their emotions. They will say, “Don’t trust your emotions. Faith, not feelings, is the road to spiritual growth.” Why are we so critical of our emotions? In Mark chapter 3, Jesus felt anger and sorrow. Is that bad? I don’t think any of us would condemn Jesus for having emotions. Then why do we condemn ourselves.

God gave us emotions for growth, maturity, fulfillment, and enjoyment. Feelings were made to be our friends. If it is a negative emotion, it means something needs attention. It is like the red light that appears on the dash when the car needs oil. We don’t curse the light; we give attention to the problem. Why not do the same with your emotions? If you take constructive action, emotions have served their purpose.

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Get Your Emoticons Under Control!

angerHave you ever seen this?>:-What if we had this emoticon popped up over your head every time we were angry? Would you be embarrassed :”> or would you stop getting angry as often as you are? Probably not… think about it…

Why is anger so pervasive? The answer lies in the reality that we are made in the image of God. After all, God experiences anger. God’s anger is based on His holiness and His love. His holiness means that He is righteous in all of His thoughts and deeds, and His love means that He cares about the well being of His creatures. When His creatures violate what He knows to be right, God experiences anger. This motivates Him to take constructive action. I believe our experience of anger is very similar.

But, Anger is more than just an emotion [or an emoticon ;-)]. It involves the emotions, the body, the mind, and the will, all of which are stimulated by some event in the individual’s life. All people have some sense of fairness or rightness. When they encounter what they consider to be wrong, they experience anger. Anger is an indication that we are moral creatures. God made us, and we reflect His concern for righteousness. Anger is a friend, not an enemy.

Anger is not evil; anger is not sinful; anger is not a part of our fallen nature; anger is not Satan at work in our lives. Quite the contrary. Anger is evidence that we are made in God’s image, and He experiences anger because He is holy and loving. We should thank God for our capacity to experience anger. Thank God for anger, and then learn how to process it in a godly way.

How do you process your anger? How do you keep yourself from letting anger overcome you?

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