In Pastor Jeff's Blog

 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. – Ephesians 4:26-27 (MSG)

“What do I do with my anger?”

I’ve heard that question in one form or another several times in the last week from people who are dealing with serious conflict. People who have been unjustly accused. People who have been wounded and betrayed by those they thought they could trust. And here’s the kicker – they have no recourse. For various reasons they can’t tell their side of the story. They simply have to take it. And they’re angry. Who can blame them!

Though they can’t control their circumstances, they want to know what to do with their anger. Perhaps you do too. Here are a few thoughts that might help.

First acknowledge it. You can’t deal with something you aren’t willing to acknowledge. Some Christians have gotten the idea that being angry is itself sinful, and so they deny it and stuff it. Not healthy! But Paul says “Go ahead and be angry. Just don’t sin”. Denying or stuffing our anger is smooth pathway to sin, because that’s when anger comes out sideways in grudges, violence and words we’ll later regret.

Second, vent it. If you can talk to the person you’re angry with and seek reconciliation, do it. If you can’t, consider talking to someone you can trust. Someone who listens well, speaks honestly and is slow to tell you what to do. Verbalizing our feelings helps to process them and diminish their power over us.

Third, explore it. When we’re angry we usually focus on the person or situation that angered us. But it helps to spend some time reflecting inwardly. Lots of things lurk behind our anger. Things like hurt, frustration, fear and defensiveness. Invite the Holy Spirit to partner with you in probing your thoughts and feelings and see what lurks deep within.

Fourth, practice gratitude. Anger narrows our field of vision. Gratitude expands it and puts things into proper perspective. Keep a gratitude journal on your journey through your anger. It’ll change how you see things.

Finally, pray. If someone has angered you, prayer for them. That’s what Jesus calls us to do (Matthew 5:44). Someone taught me a long time ago that “hurting people hurt people” which means that often those who hurt me are hurting themselves, often in ways I am unaware of. So genuinely pray that God would bless and heal your “enemy”. This is, in my experience, the most profoundly powerful practice to help us move through our anger. Prayer softens our heart, changes our perspective and heals our wounds. Prayer empowers forgiveness.

Need a little inspiration? Watch this.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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  • Paul Gilje

    I couldn’thelp But think that those welcoming people of Iowa were the best example of the kingdom of God that anyone will find. Can life after death be better? Oh, excuse me.

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