Angry Much?

I have an anger problem. I have lived with it for over forty years. Now before you picture me in a moment of violent rage kicking the dog or ripping down the curtains from the wall, it is not that kind of anger. My anger is the kind that bubbles under the surface out of the public eye. Mine is the kind that slowly builds over time and emerges subtly in large and small ways. Mine is an anger that stems from the fact that I am not in charge of my life and that everyone else around me is not here to serve and make said life easier for me. Life doesn’t go my way and there is anger. I get cut off in traffic or someone that is going slower than I want pulls in front of me and there is anger. I get stuck behind that one little old lady who is still using checks and is in the 20 items or less line (a line that is clearly for people who are in a hurry) and there is anger. My anger grows as she seeks to not only pay with a check but wants to balance her check book right there in front of us all. There is anger when my kids don’t act the way that I expect or do something that is an inconvenience to me (like wanting to actually talk about their day during a TV show or needing help with their school work in the middle of a good book I am reading). There is anger!

My anger comes out when I don’t get what I want. My anger stems from a deep selfishness that wants what Francis Schaeffer has called our striving after “personal peace and affluence.” Personal peace, sounds wonderful doesn’t it? A life that is freed from distraction, suffering, annoyance or disruption. Affluence; having what I want in such quantity that I don’t need the kindness and service and generosity of others to move through this life. I would like to be able to say that my anger is caused by all those people out there who just don’t get me, but the longer that I live, the more I come to agree with the Scriptures that remind me that, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Basically my anger is centered in my heart, my sin nature, that fights against the rule and reign of Jesus Christ in my life. As a believer, Christ is my savior, rescuing me from the eternal penalty of my sin nature and my sinful life, reconciling me to my Eternal Father. Now, in this life, I live justified before the Father and He has given me the Spirit to weed out the deep roots of sin and selfishness in my life. This makes me angry though some times, or should I say I respond angrily to it. I don’t like the meddling and cutting that goes with this kind of pruning. It is inconvenient and painful at times, but oh so desperately needed. This kind of pruning is ongoing and will last a lifetime, this side of heaven and so I have got to continue to fight against the anger that bubbles under the surface in my own heart and life, in the grocery store or behind the wheel or sitting in my chair in the living room.

We all struggle with anger, in large and small ways, I think. Identifying it and dealing with it can be difficult though. Perhaps you have a little mirror walking around your house; a child, reflecting the kind of anger that you have learned to hide away from the world, only letting it out every now and then in “acceptable” ways. Our children can be little reflections of ourselves, less refined, less socially acceptable and certainly more raw. It can be disturbing to see ourselves reflected in our children’s lives, our faults and failings and struggles, living out in front of us each day. How do you deal with your own anger issues when you see them being reflected in the lives of those that you love; whether you have little children or teenagers?

Anger issues are easy to spot in others, whether in our children or in total strangers. “That guy’s got some real anger issues”, we might say or “Rage much?” as we walk away from a particularly angry person shaking our heads. We can be great spotters when we see anger around us but are we as good about seeing it in our own lives? How do we respond when others point it out in us? Get a little angry? Blame, deflect, explode? The purpose of this blog is to confess a little, vent a little, muse a little, meddle a little but ultimately to point us to what I hope will be some helpful resources in this area.

Let me recommend a couple of greats book written by author and counselor Lou Priolo:

Keeping Your Cool: A Teen’s Survival Guide

The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children

You need to be ready, especially if you read the second book, The Heart of Anger, that these are not just quick fix-all books. And that they are not simply aimed at helping your child. These books will be used in your life as well to help you understand that your children’s anger might have some (and I say some, intentionally because your child is responsible for their own behavior and sin) some root in what they see in you. Are you ready to deal with your own sin patterns and behavior on the way to trying to help your child? Are you ready to deal with your own anger issues?