A few years ago I was struggling with anger issues. I was a big, bad, mean momma! I yelled at my kids and was even physically aggressive with them. I knew it was wrong and I hated doing it but I couldn't seem to stop. I cried out to God often, asking for help in dealing with this. Why was I like this?
Slowly God started giving me answers and sending information my way to help me overcome my anger. The first was a resource called "She's Gonna Blow" by Julie Ann Barnhill. Here was a woman who admitted to her anger and shared very personal stories to which I could totally relate. In reading this book I realized two things: I was not the only one (it is so good to know you are not alone) and I needed to get to the source of my anger.
I. Identify the SourceOften the source of our issues comes from childhood. You may have had trauma in your childhood like sexual abuse. You may have been raped or witnessed domestic violence. You may have been in the foster care system. For me, the source originated in my childhood with insecurity and low self-esteem that were then intensified as an adult in an abusive marriage.
Whatever the source of your trauma, one thing that is common among all of them is a feeling of being out of control. That is a horrible feeling! And it can manifest itself in many ways. Some people withdraw; some overeat; some turn to alcohol or drugs; some get angry. I was the latter. And the anger reared its ugly head whenever that out-of-control feeling came again.
As a mother, there are many times when I feel out of control. Kids have a mind of their own! When I was struggling the most with my anger issues a few years ago, I was dealing with a teenage daughter who wanted to leave my home and a newly adopted daughter with major emotional and behavioral challenges. My life was total chaos! Each day was a journey of survival. I often prayed just three words, "Help me, God!" And He did, slowly.
Once I identified the source, I realized I needed to work through the grieving process in regards to my abusive marriage. I thought I had done that already, but in reality, I had just buried it and embraced my anger, holding on to it like a security blanket.
II. Break Through with ForceI was determined to fight the enemy and overcome this stronghold. I found scripture verses about anger and started declaring against my anger. Here are a few that really helped me:
- "A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." (Proverbs 29:11)
- "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1)
- "Love is not easily angered." (1 Corinthians 13:5)
- "A hot-tempered man commits many sins." (Proverbs 29:22)
- "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for a man's anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires." (James 1:19-20)
- "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith." (1 Peter 5:8-9)
- "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil." (Ephesians 6:12)
- "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Galatians 5:22)
III. Get HelpI confided in a close friend about my anger. It was a difficult and humbling conversation to admit I was having this struggle, but it actually helped to get it out in the open. The enemy likes to keep things in the dark but God brings all things into the light (Ephesians 5:11). My friend shared my burden (Galatians 6:2) and began to pray for me and hold me accountable.
In addition, I started seeing a professional therapist who specializes in women's issues. She helped me dig into my past and finally deal with things once and for all. She gave me excellent and practical ways to manage my emotions and to realize that the only person I can control is myself.
IV. Embrace the reality of who you are in Christ and who He is to you
Through all of this, I began to realize that I am forgiven, righteous and whole in Jesus. He is my strength, my healer, my protection and my peace. I am His child and He has good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11).
Finally dealing with all this does not mean that life is not perfect. I am still estranged from my teenage daughter; I still face many challenges with my adopted daughter; I still feel very angry at times. But I have learned to let go of the anger and let God handle the situation. I know that He will work all things for good (Romans 8:28) and I have found a place of peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
I encourage you to dig into your past and remove that bitter root. It is not easy but it is definitely worth it!