Can you be angry and not sin? The kids want to know. They don’t think so. God gives us the directive so I believe potential as well. I’ll share thoughts on how…
Be angry and do not sin
With three children we know all too well that you are not born with anger management skills. You need to learn effective techniques to handle your anger.
I love that God gives us direction so were not wondering how to respond.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV
Along the way we’ve found some techniques that work better than others when we feel crabby or angry. Of course, not each one will work for every situation but you can use your judgement. Here are skills you can practice at home (in no particular order):
- Always speaking quietly and calmly. It does a great deal to diffuse the situation.
- Deep breathing which oxygenates the brain, always a good thing.
- Count to ten (or a number that works for you) to give time go your body to remove the adrenaline.
- Exercise increases endorphins and reduces cortisol. Often once you excerise things seem more in proportion.
- Pray. Pray for you. Pray for other people involved. Love for the other person is a great motivator.
- Put yourself in the other persons shoes. Easier said than done but is paradigm changing. Maybe you are wrong.
- Look for the real reason. Remember the straw that broke the camels back? So often the event that makes us angry is not the real reason we’re upset.
- Let it go!!! Let it go! Handing our burdens to God is a sure bet. Holding on to anger has lasting negative consequences to your body.
- Forgive. Yep, even if they don’t deserve it; you do.
- Look in the mirror. Figuratively. Is the other persons actions a reflection of what you don’t like about yourself? This is especially true for parents.
- Don’t cry over spilled milk. Really. This is an old cliché but it is still valuable today.
- Remember HALT? Consider if you (or the other person) is Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired… all of them look like anger to the other person and it may just be that you are tired or hungry.
- Give the benefit of the doubt. We all need it from time to time.
That’s just a sample of what we are teaching the kids. Often we use them all in some way.
Do not let the sun do down on your anger
The middle of the Bible verse guides us as well.
…do not let the sun go down on your anger… Ephesians 4:26
We are not to go to bed angry. Who can sleep anyway? We toss and turn rolling the events in our mind until we are so self-justified and sarcastic that loves disappears.
I want to share a story with you. When Matt and I were first married, we had to learn how to deal with two big issues. First, he was an early bird: this means that he would go to bed between 8-10 pm every night. I am a night owl: this means I go to bed between 10pm-2am every night. Second, we had absolutely no idea that our problems would last more than a day, a week and certainly never considered that a problem could last over a year.
About the bedtime thing… He would be so exhausted that he could not think straight or problem solve. I would be so emotionally wrought that I couldn’t sleep since it wasn’t worked out. So… He would go to bed by 11pm and sleep like a baby. In the meantime, I tossed and turned, crying most of the night, falling asleep exhausted around 4am. Bright and early at 5am, my dear husband would wake up refreshed and ready to talk about our issues at hand. I wouldn’t be very eager to visit with him. He was puzzled and I was hurt. It took a few months before I learned that it was OK to sleep on it and talk in the morning. Over the years we learned to handle our problems on the spot so they don’t blow up just before bedtime.
Regarding our problems lasting from year to year.. It took a great many years to learn to love each over unconditionally even while we firmly disagree with the other. Yes, it is possible to have opposing views and love at the same time. Romance even. It is hard to explain but we learned that we grow emotionally at different rates. God is always working with us though usually not on the same thing at the same time. If we can have the patience to wait for the other one it will all work out. And if it doesn’t than God didn’t have it planed for us in the first place–good thing we didn’t sweat it! Life has been better ever since!
Give no opportunity to the devil
The end of the Bible verse is rather chilling…
…and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:27
Whoa! How often do we think of that? We get so wrapped up in our own thoughts, excuses, etc. that we do not consider the lasting consequences and the fact that we are not alone.
Last year, I had an epiphany when it was pointed out that God is everywhere but the devil isn’t. So when he comes prowling around I want him to find my house (my spiritual life) to be clean and in good working order–so full of the fruits of the Spirit that there is not space for anything else. In case you were wondering the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self–control.
It is my prayer for you, yes you, that you will experience the fruits of the Spirit every day of your life and that anger will no longer hold you captive.