by Sue Detweiler
Overcoming Anger Requires you to Look in the Mirror
Have you ever seen your own angry red face in the reflection of a mirror? I never knew I had anger issues until I was faced with the daunting task of potty-training a toddler. By the fourth mishap of the day I was pulling off Rachel’s jeans with such force that I am sure it scared her. Then I screamed and caught my face reflecting back at me in the mirror: ugly, red, distorted by rage. This was the face my daughter was seeing.
Seeing your reflection in the mirror of God’s Word brings truth of your own need to change. It is easy to point your finger and look at other people who battle out-of-control anger. It is another thing to honestly assess how you personally deal with anger.
Whether you express, suppress, or calm your anger is your choice. Anger is not an emotion you can ignore. Unexpressed anger can come out in passive aggressive ways, such as cynical comments, cutting looks, or critical judgments, which contribute to broken relationships.
Our children can receive the brunt of our unexpressed anger. We may be angry at a situation at work and seem perfectly calm there, but then we come home and make life miserable for everyone we encounter. Children pick up on our hostility and blame themselves for it. An angry mother is the source of much pain for her children.
So what do you do if you are angry regularly?
1. Say “I’m Sorry”
When my children were smaller, I tried something concrete that they could understand. I put myself in “time-out.” There were a few times when they brought their cute little hands and placed them on my shoulder and prayed “Jesus, help mom not be angry.” Their sweetness burst through any hardness in my heart. I openly said “I’m sorry” and chose to turn the situation around.
2. Be Accountable
When you have been angry more than once or twice, you may get into a pattern of unhealthy venting that is unhealthy for your children. Raised voices, slamming doors, stomping up the steps are actions that bring hostility in your home a cause other to “walk on eggshells” around you.
If this is you, find a way to be accountable for the sinful way that you are acting. One thing that I did was at the supper table or at family devotions I would bring up my own hurtful choices in front of my husband and young children. I wanted them to know that my anger was not “okay.” I also found that bringing it out in the light helped the enemy not to gain a foothold in our home.
Did I do this perfectly? No. This would be an area of weakness for me that I regret. Yet the more that I sought to apply the Word to my daily life and take my shortcomings to God in prayer – the more free I became.
Don’t let daily pressures take over your life and home. What do you need to do to enjoy life. I found that starting my day in prayer and Bible study made a huge difference in learning to walk in the fruit of the Holy Spirit at home. Taking a walk, spending time with friends, exercising are all ways for you to successful overcome stress.
I do not feel the same pressures today that I did when my children were ages 6, 4, 2, and newborn. But at every stage you have joy and stress. So begin today by overcoming anger with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.