It’s always hard to admit sin publicly. I struggle with anger. I want to be open and honest about it. I hesitate for a moment in writing this blog because I am in leadership at my church. What will people think of me when I admit I struggle with this sin?
My anger against others shows up in many forms: annoyance, sullenness, a cold shoulder, tailgating, rudeness, curtness, being demanding (when expecting service in the service industry), and a quiet storm building up inside of me that no one knows about.
I went through a study on anger recently with the woman who disciples me, Betsy. One of the passages mentioned in the study was Psalm 51, the psalm King David wrote after his sin against Uriah and with Bathsheba. At first, I wasn’t sure this psalm would be applicable to my struggle with anger but as I read it, it was totally applicable:
A Prayer of Repentance
Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
. . . . . .
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
Psalm 51:1-13,17 (NKJV)
This passage calmed me down tremendously when I read through it in my state of anger. I realized that my volatile and unstable anger was a sin against my Lord Jesus Christ and my God. “Against you only have I sinned.” That realization was a sobering thought because I wasn’t mad at God and did not want my anger to point to Him or be directed at Him. Yet God tells us in His word when I sin against my fellow man, I am sinning against Him. I remembered that God is grieved when I sin in this way:
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:30-32, NKJV)
When King David asks God to “wash [him] thoroughly from [his] iniquity” and “cleanse [him] from [his] sin,” I asked God to do the same to me. I asked the Lord to “create in me a clean heart.” King David said through God’s redemptive work regarding this sin in his life, he would tell others about what God has done for him and will teach others how to follow the Lord. I want to be able to share God’s goodness with others when He has finished His work in me! The passage tells us the Lord honors “a broken and contrite (penitent) heart.”
I have received resources and learned tools on how to express my frustrations in a healthy, respectful and righteous way. (See resource references at the end of the blog.) I have only touched the surface of developing the skill of clear and respectful communication and responding in a godly manner when I am upset. Ephesians 4:26 says “Be angry, and do not sin…” Through the help of His Holy Spirit, I can respond in a righteous way without sin.
Three practical ways that have helped me in my struggle with anger:
- I have asked for God’s help by asking Him to reveal to me when I am being tempted to respond with anger. Very often, my anger gauge rises quicker than the time it takes for me to realize the temptation that got me to that point. If I can recognize when I am being tempted to get angry, I can check myself and submit to the Holy Spirit in that moment.
- Taking time to journal has also been helpful to me. I journal about common triggers that typically get a rise out of me so that I can be cognizant of those triggers in the future.
- Asking people in my communities to keep me accountable in this area.
As the Lord humbles me, I will continue to pray and ask Him for a clean and softened heart that honors Him and honors others.
“He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” (Psalm 25:9, ESV)
As one of my favorite verses state, may God “continue the good work He started in us!” (Philippians 1:6)
The Anger Workbook by Les Carter and Frank Minirth
Emotions that Destroy by Chip Ingram
How We Love by Kay and Milan Yerkovich (credit to Lauren Jones from the Well’s Women’s Retreat)
The Peacemaker by Ken Sande (credit to Lauren Jones from the Well’s Women’s Retreat)
Conflict Resolution Training by the Austin Disaster Relief Network
Peacemakers Ministries(credit to Milana Brown from the Well’s Women’s Retreat)
Relational Wisdom 360 (credit to Milana Brown from the Well’s Women’s Retreat)