Ive spent most of my adult life and christian life as an angry and bitter human being. It has not been until the last 5 years of my walk with the Lord did I truly believe Jesus could help me overcome it. There are a few things I think that are important to understand in regards to anger and how to overcome it.
It’s often promoted within Christianity that in order to overcome a negative emotion or negative aspect of life we have find the root of the issue that is causing the. The issues are all typically tied together in some unconquerable knot that creates an immense amount of confusion for anyone in bondage. Weather it be anger, bitterness, depression, self hatred or anxiety, each of these are intricately tied together and the only way to get free of any of it is to have our mind in a constant state of renewal and reformation Romans 8:1
Revelation #1 Identify the root.
I think there is a time and place to identify people, places and circumstances that have wounded us and marked us in a negative way. Identifying these negative memories can become helpful in the process of restoration and living in the fullness of forgiveness. However, I have found that the enemy uses these instances as a strategy over a long periods of time to continually point to people and places as the source of our negative emotions such as anger. “You are angry because of your Dad, because of the things he said and did to you.” ” You are angry because you were bullied and embarrassed regularly in school.” I have found that I can’t allow myself to continually point to these circumstances as the source of anger. Though these instances helped create deep wounds in my life, each negative circumstance in my history has only brought to the surface that which was already in me. These circumstances didn’t create the anger that simply gave expression to something that was already lurking deep in my heart. The same thing that lurks deep in every human heart.
My past circumstances might have created an avenue to allow anger to be expressed more openly while another persons anger is expressed in a completely different way. Most of us are angry and we don’t even know it. The anger smolders on the back burner and we might not see it come to a full boil, therefore think we are free from it or that it is not an issue. It’s important to note that Anger can be expressed in other ways besides rage and outbursts. Such as how we spend money, proving others wrong, speaking with bitterness, proving a point, sarcasm, light whispering, defilement in speech, how we express ourselves in our speech, motivating ourselves with the chip on our shoulder, the list goes on. All of these are expressions of anger. Though they might not be blatant outbursts of rage they create a serious disconnect from the tenderness and humility with the heart of the Father. Look at the standard Jesus sets forth for anger in Matthew 5:21-26. It’s the first negative human expression Jesus addresses in the sermon for a reason, its a really large issue that goes mostly unnoticed. We have a tendency to make light of it while Jesus compares it and even categorizes it as murder.
Paul refers to it as the root of bitterness Hebrews 12:15. Though it lays underground were we can’t observe it, given the right circumstances the root will spring up and defile our situations and relationships, this is huge for the family dynamic. The exhortation here is that we would deal with these secret issues in our heart by leaning on the fruit of the spirit, a fruit that has healthy roots, that when they spring up it creates peace and tenderness in our relationships Galatians 5:22. Our commitment as believers is that we would work together with him through these issues. Paul warns us that if we do not partner with him regarding these issues we are taking the grace of God in vain. As believers have an abundance of power (Holy Spirit) to overcome and yet we don’t use it. 2 Corinthians 6:1. To say it more plainly, we are believers who live like unbelievers, wilting under the pressure of emotional bondage while intellectually agreeing with the freedom of the Holy Spirit yet never experiencing it in our heart mind and emotions because we don’t want to “go there”.
It’s important to identify the real root of the problem. The day I stopped blaming my history and the people in my past is the day I took the biggest step forward in walking in freedom. This is much easier to do when we recognize the root of the issue is much more ancient and deep seated than our past negative experiences. The root of the issue started in Genesis 3 with Adam and Eve’s rebellion. Adam loved darkness. Jesus made it abundantly clear in John 3:19 “and men loved the darkness rather than the Light”. To get to the deeper roots of the issue I have to stop blaming my Dad, Mom, peers and experiences and know that deep in my own heart I loved darkness and that is the root of any anger issues I have. Jesus came to liberate me from that love of darkness and by default free me from all the expressions that come with that darkness. To overcome, I have to truly repent of my own depravity and that is where freedom truly lies. I am not a sum total of my negative life experiences but a son of God, a God who is truly capable of helping me overcome darkness. Satan wants me to continue to point to my history and blame that so that I never see the deep underlying issue and the key to freedom which is that desperately need Jesus and as I press into him his power helps me overcome. By identifying the root in Genesis 3 it creates a level playing field for all humanity. Instead of comparing ourselves and circumstances among ourselves, we can see ourselves in the same story with the same root issue. Man has fallen, we loved darkness. Jesus came to give us a new option as light.
Revelation #2 Breaking down sin barriers.
I don’t like to prioritize a renewed mind over a resolve to resist sin or that we should resist sin in order to get a renewed mind. I think both of these truths should coincide with each other and be happening at the same time. All believers should be seeking to renew their mind and say no to sinful opportunities at all times Romans 6:11-14. Incorrect thinking leads to sinful actions and sinful actions lead to incorrect thinking. If we take our God given authority over one of these areas we will most likely start on a path to victory in both areas.
5 years ago Richard confronted me in regards to purity and pornography. I watched the conquer series once and my pornography addiction was important. This is important, because I did not know it at the time, but this was the blanket that laid over my inability to walk free in Christ. The cycle went something like this. Feel inadequate>Engage pornography>Feel Shame >Shame converts to self hatred>self hatred and shame lead to outbursts of anger>Anger leads to feeling inadequate and the cycle starts all over again. In the end the cycle creates a spiritually dull and spiritually bored believer that does not walk in the power to overcome weaknesses of the flesh. Without taking a serious stand against this one area of failure I had zero chance of ever overcoming anger. Pornography fed the anger more than I could have imagined. After Richard gave me the conquer series in 2014 I have not engaged pornography in anyway and have made a covenant with my eyes to shut down, close, turn off or unfollow anything that opposes that covenant.
As the years have passed and more time has been placed between now and the last time I had engaged pornography I began to feel the fruit of the spirit grow in my life. It was there before, but dormant. Everyday I feel cleanliness on my conscious and my spirit, I can feel the power of making choices based in righteousness as I am no longer nagged by a secret sin that at one time loomed over my life like a dark cloud. My confidence in the Lord has grown and I have grown in self confidence as well. I have found that I like myself more, because I have discovered God actually likes me and takes pleasure in my life. I think this is where we find boldness before his throne. Sin clouds our minds from receiving his kindness and prevents us from feeling his pleasure over our lives. The feelings can’t really be described, but I can say that I love the way it feels and that I want to grow in it even more. Ephesians 3:11-12, Hebrews 4:16
I think this is an important point because I believe many families and households are crippled in this one area. Wives are often times pressing into the Lord with more zeal than husbands and it creates a spiritual imbalance of frustration and bondage. the wife ends up frustrated, the husband feels inadequate, the cycle continues. Men, husbands and fathers have to stand for holiness and righteousness for the family dynamic to work in our individual homes and for the family dynamic to work in the body of Christ. If we truly want to walk in an awakening we need to shut down the issue of pornography body wide, this will require for us to intentionally wake up (reject apathy) and then strengthen what it is that remains Revelation 3:2. I think we are often times waiting on the Lord to do this for us, the Lord will not say “no” to sin for us, we have to determine in our hearts and in our minds that we love him and we want to obey him in the power of the spirit. Or we will be stuck in bondage for decades. When Paul exhorts us to consider ourselves “dead to sin and alive in Christ” Romans 6:11 He is telling us to reject sin on purpose, not wait for it to go away.
Revelation #3 Freedom is often times progressive.
In the first 15yrs of my walk with the Lord I often found myself extremely frustrated that I could not break freak from the cycle of anger. I believed I should have a one time miracle and then walk in freedom from that point on. Once I began to see it was a process instead of viewing my failures through a lens of shame I viewed them as a opportunity to learn how to respond correctly. Though I do not have nearly as many outbursts or fits of rage as I used to, there are still times when those feelings come to surface. Because of the levels of freedom I am currently walking in I have faith that Jesus has a long term plan to help me be free of responding in anger or anger being the first thing I feel when I am upset. Since getting free of pornography here is the strategy that I believe the Lord has given me to help me over come.
1. “Deliver me from temptation.” What a gift Jesus has given us in this prayer. That we can be preemptive about our weaknesses and pray for them well before they have an opportunity to surface. I often pray when I am not angry that Jesus would deliver me from the temptation of manifesting anger or even feeling angry. I have found that by praying this prayer Jesus delivers me more often than not in moments that would have sent me into the downward spiral of Rage or frustration. This also gives me confidence that he actually listens to me when I talk to him and he responds. What an amazing God he is.
2. When I fail I repent quickly. regardless of how justified I feel about being upset, I have committed to putting the onus on myself. I have to ask the questions “What did I bring to the conversation that wasn’t right”. Many times while arguing with Melissa I have stormed out the door only to be convicted to walk back in 2 minutes later and apologize, regardless how “right” I feel about the points I was arguing. This often leads to a more meaningful conversations where we can both express ourselves in a clearer more meaningful way.
3. Don’t blame others. If anger manifests itself through me it is nobody else fault. Nobody made me do it. It was me, I did it, and its a failure. That is how I have committed to saying it to my wife and to my kids. “I failed, I’m sorry, will you forgive me.” Usually some variation of that.
4. Run straight back to God and ask not only for his help but to feel his closeness. I don’t put myself in spiritual time out. I go straight back to him and asked to be strengthened in this area.
5. I still struggle with anger. But I believe Jesus wants me free of it and I believe he can free me from it with my cooperation. I only fail if I give up on the process Jesus has me in to get free.
Revelation #4 Fruit of Relationships.
Melissa and my own children have been victim to my anger more than anyone else. As I walk in more and more freedom I begin to see them trust and respect me more. Especially with Melissa, She has known me for 15yrs and was with me when I was at my worst. She still carries emotional wounds created by me and my lack of self control. She is however learning to trust me more in the past few years and trust that my responses are going to be different than they were in the past. I still fail from time to time, I am not perfect but I believe I am on the right trajectory. Most importantly I have begun to trust myself and how I will respond in unfavorable circumstances or disagreements. For many years I lived in fear of not knowing when I was going to respond poorly again, as though the bogey man in the closet could come out at anytime. The Holy Spirit is truly good and gracious he suffers long with us and is incredibly committed to the process of our freedom.