I had a horrible dream this morning.
In my dream I was terribly upset at my parents. To the point of yelling angrily at them, and being disrespectful. Thankfully, it was only a dream. But, it did reveal to me that I still have a tendency towards anger.
Ever since I was a young child, I have struggled with sinning in my anger. For years I blamed my sin on other people and external circumstances. In my younger teen years I would become so inflamed as to storm out of conversations if I was offended, slam doors, sling my shoes off and let them slam into the closet wall, and think angry thoughts of sin against whomever had "sinned" against me.
At 16-17, I began to make a more concerted effort to stifle my natural inclination, and prayed a lot about my sin of anger. God began to soften my heart, and gave me victory over my anger.
There have been multiple times since that resolution, that I have sinned in my anger, for petty reasons. I always repent immediately, but the point is not "why did I just do that?" but, "what lead to my becoming so incensed?"
A majority of times, I become angry over small things that annoy me, or because someone has pointed out a fault. I also become upset when I see someone being unjustly punished, or mistreated. But, anger is not the proper response.
Jesus has given me a new heart. One that is far more tender towards sin than it ever used to be. A heart that is easily touched by human suffering, by joy, by sadness, by pain and affliction. But, a heart that still sins.
This week has been especially trying on me, for a number of reasons. And, there were a couple of occasions where I felt all the old anger and bitterness creeping up in my heart, trying to strangle the joy and peace Jesus has placed there.
It scared me.
And rightly so, I believe. Because I do not desire to return to my old self. That nature has been buried, forever!
Some lessons I have learned (am learning) from my years of being angry and harboring bitterness:
- Anger is a reflection of one's heart condition - if a person is not in the habit of resolving problems and reconciling after an offense, then anger and bitterness begin to pile up in the heart, and eventually, if left there to smolder, will spew out and destroy relationships, people, and do a lot of harm
- Most of the time when we become angry, it is over something that we have decided to take offense at, and blow way out of proportion! Too many times I chose to take something the 'wrong way' and instead of being calm and letting the Spirit soothe my heart, I listened to Satan's lies and become angry. Our response should always be godly, even if the way whatever was communicated was less than gracious, or even just hard to hear/accept.
- I wasted years on being angry. Instead of accepting responsibility for my sins, I chose to blame others for how I felt and so continued on in my destructive mindset. Anger is rarely worth it! Oh how often I wish I could go back and mend the relationships that are thankfully much improved today, but have been sadly effected by my past anger. I was not a godly example to my younger siblings. I did not properly respect my parents or honor them, regardless of whether I agreed with them or not.
- Anger is unhealthy. Seriously! It can induce heart problems, raise blood pressure, and fog the mind. It is ultimately, folly. "A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He rages against all wise judgment." Most importantly, it goes against the very character of God. He calls us to forgive, and graciously work through situations that could become volatile, instead of exploding in anger!
- Seek to work in harmony with others, and repair relationships that have been harmed by anger. I have now spent years working to regain the trust and respect of my family members whom I wronged for so long by my anger. I still have times where I don't get along with them, but I am actively seeking to have a harmonious relationship with each of them.
- Rest in the fact that if you have repented of sinning in your anger, you are forgiven through Jesus Christ! Don't let Satan whisper in your ear and try to get you down, and believing his lies. Because of the finished work of Jesus on the Cross, we do have victory over sin!