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what to do with anger


Are emotions neutral?  If I believe that anger is a secondary emotion, hurt the primary emotion and hurt usually occurring because there is a loss of something, what do I do with my anger?  My tendency, historically, has been to stuff my emotions, which is not healthy.  Neither is it  appropriate (or healthy) to  express my emotions with disregard for others.  If I cannot control (as in determine whether or not they occur) my feelings, what do I do with them?

While we are taking a few days off, I asked my wife about this–in our relationship.  This may not work in all relationships.  She wife suggested that we need to evaluate how important the hurt is and if it is important then we should tell the other person, lest it eat us up inside and grow to something bigger–spread to bitterness.  Certainly, Mtt 18:15 would agree with this since we are to go to our brother if has sinned against us (Mtt 18:15).  Of course we are to forgive him (or her) for an unlimited number of offenses (490 times in Mtt 18:21-22) and forgive even if they have not asked for forgiveness.

But most things are not that important in and of themselves and can and should be overlooked.  Luke tells us that we are to pray for those who mistreat us (Luke 6:28).  We are to bear with one another’s burdens–look past their faults Col 3:13 and Eph 4:2  (see also Romans 12:10, 16) In Mk 11:25 as we pray, we are to forgive “if you hold anything against anyone”.  Okay, but how do I do this without being dishonest about feelings–ie stuffing them.  My wife said what she has been doing is to use the small hurts as an opportunity to pray for others.  So, when I fail to put the dishes away, she thanks the Lord that I am eating and that we have food.  When our children do not respond to us when we want to talk with them,  she expresses gratitude to the Lord that we even have children and prays for whatever might be bothering them.  You encounter a bad driver and pray for the stress they are undergoing that causes them to think they have to get somewhere so quickly! So, she is not denying the feelings of frustration or irritation but is using them as opportunities to practice the presence of the Lord moment by moment.

I will be working on this in the coming days and suspect that I will have many opportunities before I get home!

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