Originally published Monday, 12 October 2015.
This article is an excerpt from Soul Sorting: Guided Journaling for Sorting Emotional Clutter and Messy Memories and can be purchased here.
God made you with the capacity to feel emotions ranging from jubilation to depression. That range of emotions acts like a personal thermometer. Emotions are a gauge that let you know how your system is running. Anger is also an emotion that serves this purpose. Anger can be triggered by get embarrassment, exhaustion, hunger, jealousy and a host of other reasons. Anger points out that something is wrong. Sometimes that thing is an external circumstance. You get angry when you see someone hurting an innocent victim. Other times anger points to something internally off kilter. If you are holding onto bitterness instead of forgiving someone, anger often bubbles to the surface, etc. Anger in and of itself isn’t wrong or problematic. In fact Scripture tells us “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. The problem comes when anger begins to control your life. When yesterday’s upset leaks through to tomorrow and the next day. Then our anger becomes an open opportunity for the devil.
Since our emotions are a gauge, we simply need to take stock of what they are communicating to us. The speedometer on the car doesn’t decide how fast you are going, it merely informs the driver of the speed. That’s the same way we ought to view our emotions.
Use these questions to gain clarity on your emotions. Journal your responses. This list of questions is repeated at the end of this journalling guide for you to use again in the future.
- List specific issues that are making me angry right now.
- Do I have unresolved anger from past issues that may be affecting me right now? List the specific offenses of others that may be fueling anger, resentment or unforgiveness.
- Look back over the issues past and present that are stirring your anger. Ask yourself if you have the ability/power to change any of those things. Circle the listed items you have some measure of influence over.
- If you can change something, will the outcome have long term benefits or is this a quick fix that may bring more problems later? Write possible positive or negative outcomes.
- If you cannot change my situation, what does God have to say about it (scripture hunt - grab a concordance and dive in!).
So what do you do when your anger is controlling you instead of you controlling your anger? Here’s a few ideas:
- Make up your mind that your anger is wrong, that you don’t want it to run your life any longer and start to dialogue with God about your feelings.
- Then become aware of what makes you angry and categorize it. This works best if you can keep a journal at least a couple times a week. Use the questions on the other side of this card to help you sort through the tangle of emotions.
- Find out the truth about your emotions. God promises that the truth will set us free when we walk in it (John 8:31-32). Dig into the Bible and find out what God has to say about anger. Post the verses in places where you will see them and remember.
Join us for more of the Managing Your Anger Before It Manages You series at www.MotlMinistries.org