(Have you ever replied to a text or email in your head, but not actually replied in real life? I am the world’s worst at that. Lately, I’ve been blogging like that too. There are so many blog posts in my head that haven’t actually been penned in real life! Hopefully that changes today!)
Recently, our son disobeyed and got into some trouble with us. Like many children, he did not enjoy the consequences of his choice and got very angry – I’m talking red-faced, throwing- things, door-slamming angry. My heart hurt for him in that moment because it seemed like he didn’t understand the love behind the lesson. As I told him, if I didn’t love him, I’d let him get away with disobedience. But since I do love him and I know that disobedience has hurtful consequences in life, I want him to learn to desire and love obedience. As I watched him express his anger in a variety of ways over a generous time period, I also tried to love on him. I reached out to hug him, I attempted to rub his back, I sat beside him, but each one of my efforts was met with recoil and resistance.
In that moment, it was like God was saying to me, “See the wall that anger builds? Love cannot get through when anger builds a wall. Anger blocks love.” I started thinking about that and realized it’s truth. I can think of times when I was angry and my husband was the one trying to love on me. I wasn’t even mad at him but I reacted just like our son, I recoiled and resisted. How many times have I missed someone’s love or even worse, have I missed God’s love because of anger?
“ANGER BLOCKS LOVE.”
Google defines anger as “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility”. I think we can all admit to feeling this at some point in our life. Sometimes anger begins as an irritation which slowly builds into an intolerance or distaste for someone or something. Sometimes there are situations in life that are so tragic, so shocking, so damaging, that anger quickly builds up in a powerful and unexpected way. I’ve experienced both kinds of anger and often, before I know it, anger overflows from my life in unexpected and inappropriate places. Perhaps the long drive-through experience made me lose my cool, or the kids spilling their milk through me into a fit – I become too easily angered.
So what’s a girl to do? Great question. Perhaps the best first step is just recognizing the wall of anger in you and asking God to tear it down (something I’ve recently asked God to do in me). Here’s one super motivating reason for doing that… Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” WHAT? Anger that is held onto gives the devil a foothold? That is a risk not worth taking, no matter how extreme or justified your anger. (Also, as a side note, this verse implies that there IS a way to be angry without sin. Anger in itself is not a sin; the way we handle anger is usually where things go wrong. I’m not sure if I am yet mature enough to be angry without sin, but how I desire to be!)
Second, when we ask God to remove something in our life, remember to ask Him to replace it with His Spirit and goodness. Here’s a way to begin praying. James 1:19-20 says, “ My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” So after we ask Him to tear down our anger wall, we ask Him to build in us a spirit that is quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. In my recent experience with this lesson (and with so many spiritual battles), I’ve noticed that change usually is a battle. For example, when I go through the process of forgiving someone, I’m not usually all the sudden thrilled to be with them. I find that I have to battle sin within me time and time again until God replaces my sin feelings with godly ones. The same is true with anger. When we are stimulated to anger, we go to battle. We ask God time and time again to break it down and in its place, build up a spirit of grace, gentleness, and godliness. He is faithful and will do it.
Are you feeling unloved lately? Perhaps unnoticed anger is blocking love. Are you easily angered in the most insignificant areas? Ask the Holy Spirit of God to explore and reveal to you the root. Wherever a weedy root is removed, He is faithful to grow a fruitful plant in soil desiring Him. Anyone ready to do some digging with me? The harvest of gentleness, mercy, grace, and love await.