5/06/2014

The Anger Monster

I've written this post a hundred times in my head but wasn't sure if I wanted to publish it. It's not easy to put myself out there like this, but I really feel like it could be therapeutic for me to write about my struggle with anger. I also know there are other moms who struggle with the same thing so hopefully this encourages some of you.  

I'd like to turn this into a series because I think the accountability will be good for me--sometimes I feel like such a hypocrite. I also think there's a lot to be said on the subject that just won't fit in one post.

Anger is probably my biggest struggle (for now, anyway). Looking back, I'm pretty sure it's always been there--I grew up in a very angry home--but The Anger Monster has been rearing it's ugly, horrible head a lot more in me since having children. Mr. N says I used to be a lot more angry with him, but I guess it's shifted to my poor children.

I think rage better describes the way I feel and react:
rage (noun)
1 a :  violent and uncontrolled anger
   b :  a fit of violent wrath
   c archaic :  insanity
2 :  violent action (as of wind or sea)
3 :  an intense feeling :  passion
4 :  a fad pursued with intense enthusiasm <was all the rage>
Ok, well. Except #4. 

Aren't those definitions interesting? Violent and uncontrolled anger. A fit of violent wrath. Ugh. It sounds so horrible but that is exactly how I act sometimes. *cringe*   

The Lord has been teaching me so, so much about anger in the last month. Well, really the last few years actually; I just haven't been listening until the last month or so. I've had some real breakthroughs because God is so faithful to complete the good work in me! (Phil 1:6)

I was sharing with a friend a few weeks ago about how I just can't seem to get a handle on my anger rage. It was something I've been praying about and really hated about myself but it didn't seem to be getting any better. She gave me some advice that really spoke to me and quite frankly, shook me up a bit. Which is kind of what I needed.

Speaking from experience, she told me that if I don't obey His Word (be slow to anger), God will allow something HORRIBLE to happen in my life so I will obey. For the record, here are a few things the Bible says about anger:

  • Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger. -Ephesians 4:26
  • Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. -Psalm 37:8
  • Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. -Proverbs 14:29
  • A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. -Proverbs 15:8
  • A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression. -Proverbs 29:22
  • Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. -Ecclesiastes 7:9
It's pretty clear that the Lord doesn't want us to lash out in anger. Dare I say it's a command? I think she hit the nail on the head--"if you don't OBEY."

On the other hand, I don't think God is waiting for me to screw up so He can "teach me a lesson or two." I believe that God is sovereign and He can turn ANY bad situation or life experience or a Mama's mistakes into a good one because all things work together for good to those that love Him.

But I also believe that our actions have consequences. If I treat my children badly they will not want to stick around when they are adults. It's not rocket science. And it certainly wouldn't be the Lord's fault or His doing.

I also believe that God knows my heart and even though I screw up time and time again, He will honor and bless my life if deep in my heart, I really want to obey and love Him. Which I totally do.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. -Matthew 6:33
The second thing my friend told me, and this part makes me cringe, is that she has seen the way Oldest reacts to me.

GULP.

I knew exactly what she meant.

My daughter's afraid of me.

Violent and uncontrolled anger. A fit of violent wrath.

That really hit home. I was a little stunned and quite frankly, wasn't sure if I should be offended or not! But I knew my friend's heart behind her advice. And I knew that she was just concerned I would make the same mistake she did.

Now, my heart had been broken many, many times before concerning my anger towards my children, but for some reason, this time was different. It was.. unsettling. I couldn't shake it. For the next few days I chewed on it. I prayed for wisdom and understanding. I prayed for help! And I knew that if I didn't really, really give it everything I had and allow the Lord to really work in this area I might lose my children's hearts. I already knew that Oldest wasn't as close to me as she used to be but my friend just confirmed it.

Up until that conversation, I looked at it this way: I would pray, "Lord! Take away my anger!" or "Please, Lord, help me to not get angry at my children today." I prayed those prayers hundreds (thousands?) of times. But it never seemed to work. I would fail over and over again.

I was praying and thinking that *POOF!* my anger would simply disappear. Gone. Into thin air. I've removed your anger from you, Catie! Proceed with the rest of your life. You're good to go!

Wouldn't that be nice? Ok, Lord! I no longer want to struggle with (_____), You can take it away now! Thanks! Talk to you later!

Ahem.

When my friend turned it into an issue of obedience, a light-bulb went on in my sleep-deprived, scatterbrained head.

It was a choice I was making. I am choosing to get angry. Even though, most of the time, it felt like I had no control at all.

Uncontrolled anger.

The problem is that, yes, at a certain point, I do lose control. There is a Point of No Return. It does take over and I turn into The Anger Monster. Mommy Hyde. The person my children run and cower from.

Ouch. 

But what I've been trying to do (and it's helping!) is catch myself waaay before The Point of No Return. If I feel myself getting even slightly agitated by something my kids are doing, I'll pray and then focus on something else or I'll just leave the room. And I'll tell them, Mommy needs to leave the room before I get angry. And they are learning to let. me. go.

I also give them permission to tell me when I'm starting to get too angry. They're not as good at this as I would like. ;o) Of course, ultimately it's not their responsibility; but when they do remind me, it helps so much. I want to be accountable to them and I also want them to see that I'm not perfect and God is working in my life, too. By seeing this, hopefully, they'll allow the Lord to work in their lives as well.

Incidentally, I'm in the Breaking Free study by Beth Moore at church and it is helping SO MUCH. I'm learning a ton about the things that keep us in bondage and captivity and don't allow us to have the relationship with God that we're made to have. For me, one of those things is anger. This study came at the perfect time. Coincidence? I think not.

Next time I'll talk about one of the reasons I believe I have such a problem with anger.
If you'd like to add to this conversation, please leave a comment or a link to your post in the comment section. Or you can just contact me at (sillyrednewby AT gmail DOT com) and I'll pray for you! 

Read Part 2

5 comments:

  1. Brave or... something! ;o)

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  2. Good thoughts, Catie!!! Praying for you - pray for me??? (((HUGS)))

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  3. My food for thought is the root of anger. Much of it with children comes from trying to control them, their actions and our lives. There are some great parenting books on these topics, I battle this demon a lot and can pass on the books that I use to battle the rage I feel. Incidentally, religion is a LOT about control.....but to me, meaningful control is that which comes from within and our ability to look at the triggers of anger in a different way. Using religion and an ancient book to try and force yourself to control yourself is very different from looking at the triggers of our anger and dissipating them at the source .... learning why we have the urge to rage....perhaps by letting go of the urge to force and control our children... Food for thought. PS YOU ARE SO ADMIRABLE FOR ADMITTING THIS pps i think most mothers battle the rage demon

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Lady! :)

      I'd love to talk to you more about your thoughts on control. I'd have to respectfully disagree (of course) that religion (Christianity) is *about* control. There are rules, to be sure, but we HAVE to have rules, right? I mean, a society where there are no rules, or WORSE where each person gets to make up their own rules, would be an awful place to live. :) Let's have coffee woman and talk about it! :o)

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. It's encouraging!