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
- 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.