(To read the previous parts, please see this link.) After realizing my seventh-grade son was not making good progress through his independent study of Spanish, I began taking some of our daily one-on-one school time to review Spanish with him. One day, as I was repeating a phrase we had already gone over many times in that session, Joseph exclaimed, “Mom, you are just getting upset and angry with me!”
“Why, Joseph,” I replied, thinking I was speaking truth, “I am not angry with you at all.”
“Well, then it must be the spirit of anger,” were his next words. He had listened to Dr. Davis’ audio, Freedom from the Spirit of Anger.
Oh, how I would have liked to react and defend myself. I wanted to convince him I had not been angry. However, as I sat silently replaying the situation in my mind, I realized that he was right. I wasn’t yelling at him, but I was irritated, and he could tell it. Irritation is a nicer word than anger, but it is still anger.
So how do we work toward overcoming our anger? Are there practical ways we can be proactive in seeking victory over any anger we experience, or are we stuck with a lifetime of angry responses?
What should I do when those situations arise that I would respond to angrily? PRAY! Does that sound simplistic? It probably does, but do you know what? It doesn’t come naturally for me to pray when I am starting to feel angry. What does come innately is either to allow the anger to fester or to try to stuff it down as if it wasn’t there. I must discipline myself to cry out to the Lord Jesus the moment those feelings are starting!
How much do I hate my anger? Do I have worldly sorrow or godly sorrow over it? 2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” This was such a hard lesson for me to learn, and I am still growing in it. I would hate my anger, but only because it represented another of my failures, not because it was sin.
When my sorrow over my anger is godly sorrow, then I will spend daily, earnest prayer time for victory. My ability to have the fruit of the spirit evident in my life is totally dependent on the work of the Lord Jesus. Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” I am foolish or prideful or both to think that I could follow a list of steps to overcoming anger and have victory on my own.
It is easy for me to decidedly state that anger is wrong. Almost in the same breath, I will say I want to have victory over it. However, my prayer effort in that direction won’t match my words! I must truly mean that anger is wrong, from my heart, and then invest time in crying out to the Lord for His help. This has to be in both my daily personal prayer time and throughout the day.
Since I began writing these articles, I have been so excited about the new progress the Lord has been giving me in overcoming anger. However, it has not come without cost. The cost to me has been a constant focus on the problem. Dr. Davis, in his audio, Freedom from the Spirit of Anger, helped me greatly with this. He reminds his listeners that there are some sins that are just too hideous to allow ourselves to consider, let alone actually do. Would I walk in my favorite department store and steal a beautiful outfit I couldn’t afford? Never! What about ramming my car into the vehicle of a person who has treated me wrongly on the highway? Of course not! We simply don’t do those things. We know they are wrong. Somehow, though, we have come to view anger as acceptable to certain degrees rather than hating it as we might hate stealing or violence.
Colossians 3:8, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” Seeing anger as a sin, which I do not have the luxury of indulging in, began to make it worth my efforts to truly conquer it. Gentle anger—remember the Lord had given me victory over yelling and door slamming about ten years ago—ruled my life. When I started observing my anger, I became aware that many of the interactions with my children had just a slight undertone of anger in them. I don’t even think the children recognize it in me most of the time, but that doesn’t make it okay.
I began not only crying out to the Lord during my morning prayer time for help with this problem, but I also started praying constantly throughout the day. At first, it was terribly painful, because the Lord showed me I had a much greater problem with anger than I was aware of. I wrote this series because I thought I had something to share with you as far as overcoming anger was concerned. Instead, the Lord showed me that subtle anger was as much a problem as overt anger.
This continual awareness of my thoughts, attitudes, and reactions with an ongoing prayer of having normal, loving responses to what is going on around me has been wonderful. I am greatly enjoying the realization that even though I have truly had a problem, the Lord may give me lasting, sustained, life-changing victory!
In the situation I started this article with, my immediate step after prayer was to ask Joseph’s forgiveness for not being patient and gentle. Sometimes I, as a mommy, don’t want to ask my children’s forgiveness. I think it will make me look bad in their eyes, that it will undermine my authority, or that it will paint an unnecessarily negative picture of me. I believe asking my child’s forgiveness when I have wronged him by using positive words to describe what I failed to do relieves all of those concerns. At the same time, I am doing what is Scripturally commanded of me.
By asking my child’s forgiveness for my lack of patience, love, or kindness, I may be healing hurts that might never be spoken of by my child. By this I mean that each time I respond to a child in anger, my lack of love for him is showing, allowing hurts to be established and then to grow. These hurts can be concealed within the child’s heart and not be expressed. However, when I choose to humble myself by acknowledging that what I did was wrong, then I have the opportunity to reinforce my love for him.
This Mom’s Corner became too long so I needed to break it into two parts. Perhaps that will, in the end, be a good thing. You will have a month to meditate on your own view of anger in your life. You can begin observing your daily interactions and evaluate which ones involve anger. You should have time to start a diligent, vigilant prayer effort with a heart’s desire of overcoming anger. Lastly, you could try becoming accountable to the Lord and others in your family for your anger by asking forgiveness when you have been angry.