Go ahead and be angry. You would do well to be angry –
but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.
And don’t stay angry.
Ephesians 4:8 (The Message)
Have you ever been good and angry?
A few months ago I listened to Chip Ingram’s series, “Overcoming Emotions That Destroy” (for about the third or fourth time). These messages help explain how anger can serve a purpose. Sometimes it’s good to get angry. Like when evil is displayed. When someone is violated, wounded or abused.
Chip helped me recognize how I lacked anger where I needed it, like when I was date raped more than once. For someone reason, I believed I didn’t have the right to be angry – ever. So rather than putting the proper emotions where they belonged, I kept them cloistered inside of me. Assuming they’d never come to the surface.
But the truth is, anger leaks Eventually, it comes out.
There is a time when anger can be beneficial, when used in a way that brings about righteousness. There is a time when we need to express righteous anger in healthy ways. When we don’t, we carry it with us and it turns into something far from good.
I didn’t get angry at my perpetrator when I was date raped the first time, or the second time which resulted in pregnancy. I didn’t get (properly) angry at others who abused me or used me. And it became a problem. For me, and for those I loved, but not for the ones who perpetrated evil.
Instead of allowing the anger to fuel righteous acts, like resolutely walking away when my boundaries were violated, I allowed it to turn into something which ate away at my heart. I took all the hurt & anger deep inside.
Anger didn’t disappear. It just got turned the wrong direction, on myself. Over the years I’ve allowed hushed feelings to fester and turn my thoughts into a self-deprecating factory. Without an appropriate way of dealing with my hurt I wound up internalizing it to the point of self-harm, over-working, and destructive depressive thinking.
I’ve spent far too many days caught up in the fierceness of it all, this destructive force of anger. All because life wasn’t going the way I wanted it to & because I didn’t know how to deal with the emotions inside.
Unrighteous anger destroys our hearts from the inside out. Undiffused anger bubbles under the surface. All anger stirs us to action, whether good or bad. Even if we pretend it isn’t there, or try to ignore it, it’s there. When left unattended, the stirring only goes deeper.
Thankfully, God’s desire is to help us recognize anger as a sign and use it in righteous ways. As we allow Him to work in our hearts, we find how He redeems the all-out busted pieces deep inside. He strengthens and equips us to live with His Spirit, rather than with the words of a wild destroyer.