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Many, like me, fear anger, having been raised with ragers. Others are given to anger, enjoying the control, manipulation and intimidation it offers. But God's gift of anger, when approached humbly, gives us energy to correct injustice, not primarily between me and the object of my wrath, but between me and God. Anger exposes our needs, and thus our idols, giving us a chance to offer our needs to the One who promises to meet them. Anger then is a trapdoor to freedom.
How anger, humbly understood, leads us to worship
Deciphering Anger
We get angry, and call it many things: frustration, irritation, offended, incensed, bothered, pissed off. Anger is good. It is God’s given energy to make peace, motivation to correct an injustice. We are commanded to be angry, but not to sin while angry.
Yet we typically rush headlong into sinning in our anger until we understand what our anger means. Let’s start with a few baseline agreements: my anger does not give license to blame, or mean the other person is an idiot, moron, stupid, crazy, deserving of my judgment. This is sin that needs repentance. Such an attitude will also not address the real reason for your anger and resolve it. You’ll just get angry again.
My anger also doesn’t mean that I’m an idiot, moron, stupid, crazy, deserving of judgment. This is self-contempt and also needs repentance. God doesn’t think such things of you.
We need a deeper, more thoughtful approach to our anger. Anger often signals a violated expectation. If we’ve been sinned against, anger is useful energy to determine what God wants done to make peace. First question to ask when angry: what expectation do I have that has been violated? If the other has definitely sinned, eventually we will likely need to determine what might be said to the offender, but not now. Let me repeat, not now. Speaking to another from our anger will only cause harm. It might make you feel better to unload your anger, but I doubt anybody has felt loved receiving another’s anger. At times we might speak FROM our anger in kindness, but we need to resolve not to DO anger to others.
First we need to face our expectation. Whether the offender sinned or not, what did we expect? This is a fun list to create--I’m certain you could add a whole bunch of items:
They’d take out the trash
     Not cut me off in traffic
   Not take forever at checkout
     Come when I call
  Not take credit for my work
 They’d be on time
     Honor my effort at work
Not ignore my text      
       Do what they promised
    Not pad my car repair bill
  Not embarrass me in public
     Not interrupt me
 Treat me with respect
  Get that raise or promotion

Identify the expectation that has been violated when you get angry. Slow your anger down, hold it gently, take a breath. Then ask, “Why does this make me angry?”
When we ask this question in our coaching and therapy sessions, normally we hear the angry complaint again, “He didn’t…… She is such a….” Then we ask again, “And why does that make you angry?” And then they complain again, not understanding. Blaming the other person for our anger, the violating of our expectations, is as common as water, as old as Adam. A huge part of maturity is moving successfully through our anger, understanding the truth it tells, forsaking blame. Anger, as we’ll see, is a trapdoor to freedom.
Eventually, usually, after repeating the question, “Why are you angry?” they’ll spit out the expectation that has been violated, “I expected her to have dinner ready when I got home. I was hoping he’d spend his afternoon with me, not working on his project.” And then out comes the longing, “I want more quality time. I want to feel supported.”
And there’s the rub, the idolatry. We’re made with God-given needs, but the moment we expect another to meet those needs we create an idol and get mad. In effect we are demanding that the creature meet our needs, play God to us. God himself will oppose your idol because He wants to be honored as God: your provider, your comfort, your lover, your hope, your peace, your support, etc. We get angry because our gods aren’t meeting our needs. The great news is that now we know how to pray, how to die, what to lay down, what Cross we bear today! Freedom awaits when we renounce our idols and open our hearts to trusting Father instead, waiting for His provision. We no longer need to punish others for not meeting our expectations. What a relief! A dead person, those who worship God fully with their needs, can never be offended, hurt, or frustrated by others.
This truth alone would save untold marriages, repair so many relationships.
You get angry. Before you lash out at the offender or yourself, ask yourself, “What expectation is being thwarted?” Once you answer that, identify and name the beautiful, unmet need of your heart. In prayer, renounce the idol you have made (the one you're demanding satisfy you), then offer your heart’s need to Jesus for His fulfillment, and choose to trust and wait for Him to satisfy you, trusting His provision by faith. He promises He will satisfy, though you may suffer for a little while.
Most people need help sorting through their anger. If you need help, we help clients negotiate their anger, needs and their relationship with God everyday. Watching people come into freedom is really satisfying.
We are encountering many people seeking services that don't have the funds to pay, more than usual. Often we make appeals to individual donors who have a heart to help, seeking short-term, crisis funding for a class, coaching, brain health assessment or therapy. If you have a heart to help a client in crisis, we'd love to hear from you.
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