Tag Archives: The Case Against Anger

The Case Against Anger – Part 4

To read Parts 1, 2, and 3, please see this link. We have been evaluating the real-life problem of anger in moms. While our hearts’ desire is to be “victorious, joyful mothers of children,” it is not unusual to find a mom struggling instead with angry feelings—perhaps day after day after day.

Let’s return to the situation of Spanish time with my son. Remember that by God’s grace in my life, yelling at the children was overcome ten years ago. I didn’t raise my voice with my son during Spanish. However, he sensed anger in me. I like to call it frustration because it sounds better. When Joseph kindly confronted me with my attitudes, I tried to deny it. After all, I didn’t yell, stomp, or slam a door, so I must not have been angry. He was right, though. I was no longer interacting with him in my normal way.

What about choosing simply to close my mouth and say nothing if I am beginning to feel at all angry, irritated, or frustrated? Proverbs 19:11, “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.” Consider my Spanish situation with Joseph. In this case, I am not even sure we are looking at a transgression on Joseph’s part. It only would have been a transgression if Joseph wasn’t trying to learn the Spanish phrase as we worked on it, but instead purposing to be uncooperative. Whether it was a transgression or not, the verse still applies in this instance. Had I just continued to repeat the phrase for him without the other comments I was making, we would eventually have moved beyond the problem. How much better to spend the rest of my tutoring session on this one area than to be angry with Joseph simply so we could complete the material at a faster pace!

Another step toward overcoming my anger is awareness of all my angry responses—from the first feelings of anger to irritated tones in my voice to an outwardly evident angry response. My struggle is with wanting to justify that anger, especially when it seems under control and unnoticeable to others. I don’t want to fight a battle with anger, and if I am not angry, I won’t have to do that. It is much like the proverbial ostrich with his head in the sand. However, when I admit that the angry feelings are there, then something can be done about them.

The Lord has also shown me the importance of physical touch and closeness in overcoming anger. When I am feeling angry, I want to distance myself from the other person. I don’t feel close; therefore, I don’t want to be close. Distance between the child and me then fuels the angry feelings. On the other hand, if I choose to put my arm around the child, pull him into my lap, hold a hand, or pat a back, the anger begins to dissipate almost all by itself. It is very hard to be angry with someone you are loving on!

Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” When I am faced with a situation concerning my children where I feel like responding angrily, obviously the Lord’s way would be to handle it instead with love, kindness, and gentleness. Proverbs 25:15, “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.” Anger seldom knows anything about a “soft tongue.” That does not mean there won’t be consequences for wrong behavior in the children. However, it does mean that I am not contributing more to the problem by being angry.

Sometimes I have been told, or heard it said, that anger is a human emotion, and we must express it, within limits. Consider with me a comparison of two moms, one who believes anger is an acceptable human emotion and another who sees anger as sin, praying and working to overcome it in her life. In which home would you want to grow up? In which home do you think the children will feel more loved? Which home will produce angry children? Which one will produce children who are sometimes angry, but know how to deal with it in a godly manner?

Recently I took three of my children to the public library. There we had the opportunity to watch the interactions between an angry grandfather and his angry grandson. My children were mesmerized by the scene unfolding before them. It was a bit frightening for all of us even though the anger did not go beyond words and raised voices. On the drive home, we discussed what we had observed. The children were very aware that if people will act like that in public, they will be considerably worse in private. We had an opportunity to talk about what happens in lives when anger is not dealt with properly.

Again, recall with me the situation of my boys bickering while cleaning their room. My goal is to encourage them to learn to work diligently and responsibly. I also want them to be young men who will praise each other while seeking to motivate, in a positive manner, the brothers who aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing.

Here were the words I found myself speaking with a tone in my voice that my boys can recognize as irritated—fueled by angry feelings although you might not recognize the tone since you don’t know me well. “Here I have given you time to do your pickup that you should have done before school started, and what are you doing? Being unkind to each other! You should each be working hard, thanking each other for the help, and responding positively if your brother tells you that you need to put something else away.”

I believe the results I desired would have been more quickly achieved had I been quiet longer, listening to the boys’ interactions and really evaluating what was going on. That would have given me time to pray, asking the Lord for the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in my rebuke of the boys and thanking Him for the opportunity to teach them God’s ways. Then my tone could have been sweet and gentle. My words would have pointed out their wrong behavior and consequences given if necessary—all without anger!

Truly, as I evaluate the road I have been walking along toward victory over anger, I realize it has not required much of me. Here is what it has entailed:

  • An awareness of the problem
  • A heart’s desire to change
  • Humility
  • Time (but not all that much compared to the joy to be experienced on all sides)
  • Putting self aside

While there were times I wanted to give up and decide I was an angry person and always would be, God never allowed my heart to be satisfied with those thoughts. I yielded; He is doing the work! He has brought me to where I am in this battle—not having yelled or slammed a door for ten years. He continues to work as He molds and refines me to overcome even the tones in my voice and concealed reactions that stem from anger.

“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath . . .” (Psalms 37:8). Dear Sisters, may anger be a feeling that we want replaced in our lives by the fruit of the Spirit. May we be zealous enough in our efforts to give it no place in our hearts that we will spend time in earnest prayer about it and seek forgiveness when we fail. Let’s draw our children close to us with hugs, squeezes, and whispered sweet words, fostering an environment where anger cannot thrive. May we truly allow the Lord to give victory over anger in our lives.

The Case Against Anger – Part 3

(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.

The Case Against Anger – Part 2

(See Part 1 if you haven’t read it.) “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman” (Proverbs 21:19). Ouch! This verse hits home with me when we read it in our family Bible time. I always pick it as the one that God is telling me to beware of. Walking on the road toward a heart that is not easily angered is a good road to be on. I am so grateful the Lord has moved me away from being a mom who yells at her children. As you know, though, my earnest prayer is that I would be so filled with the fruit of the Spirit that even angry thoughts or feelings would seldom, if ever, arise within me.

As I evaluate my angry responses to situations, I believe it does me the most good to see what Scripture has to say about anger. It is when my evaluation of anger lines up with what God says that I will stop justifying and excusing it.

Please keep in mind that I write the Mom’s Corner articles based on Titus 2:3-5, “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” At forty-six, I am older than many who read the Corners. My goal through the Corners is to pass on what God has been teaching me in the subjects listed in Titus 2:4-5.

I would like to recommend a powerful resource on anger by a solid Bible teacher. Dr. S. M. Davis’ teaching audio, called Freedom from the Spirit of Anger, has had a profound, positive impact on Steve and me in the area of overcoming anger. It gives a detailed look at anger in the Bible, delves into whether anger is ever justified, and concludes with practical steps to conquering anger. I highly recommend that each mom reading this article listen to Freedom from the Spirit of Anger.

When I allow anger in my life, I am hurting my family members who must either face or watch my angry responses—even if it is simply a tone in my voice. How do you feel when your husband speaks to you in anger? If he isn’t yelling at you, but you discern anger within him, is your heart open to what he is saying? Do you feel loved and accepted?

Personally, I would much rather my husband speak to me in a normal tone of voice, rather than an angry one, if he has something negative to present. As soon as I sense anger in him, I become defensive. My spirit closes down, and I justify myself to him for whatever the anger is pointed toward. To be honest, even if I thought my husband had angry feelings about me that he wasn’t expressing, it would make me sad as I desire his unconditional love. It has to be the same way with my children. My anger toward them is not what they want to face. It puts them on the defensive, closing their hearts and ears to what I am saying. It also must convey to them a lack of love on my part.

Ephesians 4:31: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” To me this says that ALL anger is to be put away from me. This is my heart’s desire!

“A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife” (Proverbs 15:18). This verse indicates that our anger can actually cause additional problems. Often when I become angry it is because I want to see a change that isn’t happening. Rather than my anger facilitating the change—whether it is harmony among siblings or pancakes that aren’t burned—it stirs up more strife!

“He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly . . .” (Proverbs 14:17). It was 8:30 p.m., time for the children to do their picking up before bedtime. My two youngest children, and biggest mess makers, Jesse (7) and Mary (5), had been reminded several times through the day to put away their playthings before moving to another activity. When I walked into Jesse’s bedroom, where they had played that morning, the floor was literally covered with toys. They had obviously disobeyed my earlier reminders, and there was certainly not sufficient time left before bed to put away that quantity of toys.

I felt the anger within. You probably wouldn’t have recognized it in me, but I did, and I expect that Jesse and Mary did, too. I then acted foolishly just as Proverbs says. I lectured them with that “tone” in my voice. Then I filled their arms with toys and marched them to the places those items belonged.

Understand, the children did need to put away their toys. They needed consequences for their disobedience. What they didn’t need, and what was “dealing foolishly” on my part, was my angry reaction.

As the Holy Spirit convicted me of my anger, I went to each of them after they were tucked into bed. I asked them to forgive Mommy for not being sweet and gentle at pickup time. Children are so quick to forgive! Even though they weren’t together when I asked their forgiveness, they both said almost the same words, “Oh yes, Mommy. I forgive you. Will you please forgive me for not putting my toys away earlier today when you told me to?” There had been no remorse over their disobedience while they were in my angry presence. However, as soon as I humbled myself to each of them, their spirits were also humbled and convicted.

Next month we will continue this series on anger by looking at practical steps we can take to gain victory over anger. In the meantime, listen to Dr. Davis’ audio, and you may have anger under control before the next Corner is out! May we be women who desire not to have angry reactions in our lives—ever!

The Case Against Anger – Part 1

I had sent Joseph (12), John (11), and Jesse (7) downstairs to pick up in their bedroom. They were given a half hour of time we would normally get to spend reading out loud together for this task because they hadn’t done it during their assigned time. When I went to check on their progress, I heard one son fussing at another that he hadn’t been working at all. The other son made an unkind comment in reply. As I listened to this verbal interaction between my sons, I found the emotion of anger rising up within me.

Tonight we had a busy “breakfast” supper. There was much preparation, and most of it needed to be completed at the last minute. We started with salads, but then moved into bacon, pancakes, eggs, and biscuits. While everyone else was beginning to eat, I was still frying bacon and cooking pancakes. After a little while, Steve kindly offered to take over the kitchen work so I could sit down to have a bite to eat. I poured six more pancakes and said, “Here are the last of the pancakes. Please keep an eye on them.”

After eating a pancake, I returned to the kitchen. “Yikes, who’s watching the pancakes?”

“What pancakes?” Steve questioned. “All you said to do was finish frying the bacon.”

“No. Before I sat down, I told you I was putting in the last of the pancakes,” was my response.

“I didn’t hear that.”

I could tell, again, I was beginning to feel angry. While I have come a long way in dealing with anger—from yelling and door slamming to irritated tones in my voice—I still have much to learn in this area. I also have a tremendous desire to be constantly characterized by a meek and quiet spirit.

I am concerned about truly conquering anger in my life, and I know many other moms are as well. I don’t want to simply control it on the outside, although that is a starting place. I pray that there would be no anger at all in my reactions.

Scripture has strong words to say about anger. “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). I believe as Christian homeschooling moms, we are seeking for the righteousness of God to be manifested. God clearly says that our anger does not bring about His righteousness.

It is easy to justify anger, and that is a very dangerous temptation. May we never, never allow ourselves to do this. We must not make excuses for our anger but rather see it as sin. As long as my thoughts say that I have a reason to be angry, I am not going to deal with that anger properly or gain victory over it.

In the situation where my boys were bickering, they were sinning. I had a choice set before me. I could allow myself to let the angry thoughts and feelings progress, telling myself that my anger is righteous anger and that they deserve it. After all, when I am angry, I get their attention.

However, to be totally honest, while I am disappointed that my boys are not being kind to each other, my anger is more related to my inconveniences. I am angry that they aren’t getting their work done, that I will have to correct them for their unkindness, that we work on their attitudes toward one another but they still are bickering, etc. My anger is focused on the impact of their behavior on me.

If I were truly concerned about the issue of sin in my boys’ lives, I would not be angry. I would be pleased that the Lord has given me another opportunity to share God’s truth with my sons. I would once again turn their hearts and thoughts to Jesus Christ, the One Who can give them victory over sin. No, that is not the focus of my heart when I am becoming angry. Rather, my heart is selfish.

What happens in my children’s lives when I respond to them angrily? First, they, in turn, learn to react with anger. While anger is certainly a part of our sin nature, how often do we hear our own angry voices and see our hard facial expressions mirrored in our children? Our children have picked up angry responses from watching their mothers!

Scripture says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Therefore, when I respond angrily to my child, I am fueling his anger as well. We then have an angry, sinful confrontation on our hands. This is most certainly a no-win situation.

Now let’s consider the anger I felt inside when the pancakes were being overcooked. This is a simple matter. What difference does it make if I said something and no one heard me? What difference does it make if the pancakes were burned? (They weren’t.) Yet my pride over wanting to be paid attention to and not have distasteful food allowed angry feelings to fester.

Here again, is there anything beneficial or positive that might come from anger over pancakes? Of course not! However, there is great negative potential if I let that anger progress. What would my children see in my relationship with Steve if I respond angrily—or even at all? Where do they see my priority if a burned pancake is more important than a sweet spirit?

Next month I want to delve further into this area of anger and dealing with it. I have a whole chapter on anger in Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit. My desire in these Corners is not to repeat what I have written there, but to continue, in different ways, to evaluate anger and keep our focus on the need to refuse it any place in our lives.

Sisters, we have a myriad of daily interactions that can cause us to feel angry. May we see anger as God sees it. May we hate the anger in our lives and the consequences it brings about as well. May we consistently be asking the Lord for a heart that not only doesn’t let our anger spill out on our family members, but one that doesn’t even have angry feelings.

To read the rest of the series, please click here and scroll down, as Part 4 is at the top.