James 1:19-20 (New King James Version)
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Substitute the word “anger’ for wrath and you’ve got the more contemporary version of that scripture. I love this verse because it helps me to understand, that God does not expect me never to become angry. In fact, given his nature, God most certainly knows that I will. As a woman who is admittedly socially retarded where anger is concerned, I have waged a life-long war on my temper. I have lost many battles, but I have won some, too. Winning against my temper feels great – y’know when it’s over. In those instances where I am locked in combat, it is not fun. When I allow my temper to win, nothing righteous ever comes out of it.
Pastor Ed Young, Jr. from Fellowship Church out of Dallas, TX has a series on anger called “Good and Angry” that has helped me to see that my anger is not always about my anger. As a secondary emotion, anger is almost always preceded by some other emotion, like fear, vulnerability, or shame. As I learn to identify the underlying emotion, I can confess it, which prevents me from skipping over it directly to anger and deal with it. Sometimes the underlying emotion is not at all related to the person I’m dealing with at the time, but something or someone from my past.
When Mykel and I had a recent argument, I confessed that his response to a naive action on my part, made me feel vulnerable and stupid (reminding me of the way an old boyfriend used to treat me). He immediately apologized for making me feel that way (he had not even been aware of what he had done). I forgave him and the matter was done – just like that. In the past, I would have skipped right over the confession and either spewed out garbage on my husband, or given him the silent treatment. I’m not proud of this fact, but there you have it. This time, however, I used wisdom and was so slow to get angry that I never did get there. Go figure.