“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Anger is an overwhelming emotion. It often feels like anger has a mind of its own doesn’t it? When it comes upon us we lose some of our control. Interestingly, anger most often is birthed from a fear of losing control. In Jonah 4 we see Jonah getting angry at God. Anger happens to us doesn’t it? The issue is, scripture warns us against anger over and over again. God seems to know that this particular emotion has very dangerous consequences. So what do we do about it? Today, rather than unpacking Jonah or Matthew, I want to focus on some practical tools to address our anger.
Under the emotion of anger there is almost always a deeper emotion. For many of us anger is the mask that fear, anxiety, and shame wears. Anger is a person’s attempt to protect themselves from something. Knowing the underlying emotion is extremely powerful in helping defuse anger and guiding us into healthier ways of handling our emotions.
I feel like the blind leading the blind on this subject because I am not good at this. I have a counselor who has suggested that my body will help me uncover my underlying fear better then my mind. Although I am new at this, I believe it can be helpful for all to learn.
Today, pay attention to your body. Especially in situations that cause you to be frustrated or angry. Is there a tightening in your stomach? Does your face feel like it is heating up? How does your body feel when you are angry? Once you note those bodily sensations, spend some time figuring out what the underlying emotion is. I am told that the body is a faster predictor of our true feelings than the mind is. If you can learn the body sensations and label them in times of concentration you will later be able to identify and defuse those issues before your mind even catches up. Anger is toxic to the soul, so let us become students of our bodies so that we can battle it’s clutch on us. As you leave this reading take a moment to pray a prayer like this:
Lord, help me to pay attention to my own body today as I begin to uncover the source of my anger. As I learn, teach me to trust you with my fears and to relinquish control. Teach me to live in your way with your heart.
By Aaron Bjorklund