After my husband divorced me in spring 1992, I was a thirty-four-year-old, emotionally devastated, beautiful but angry woman. An angry heart corrupts physical beauty because as hard as we try to mask it, anger ekes out through our tone, facial expressions, words, and behaviors.
Those two years subsequent to the divorce were hellish. I was angry at him, at myself, and at God. I was deeply unhappy and I made others unhappy, too. I was angry at the world. I had been officially rejected by one I entrusted my heart to, and I had a formal document to prove it. In my misery, I medicated my pain on weekends with alcohol and looked for love in all the wrong places. I tried to anesthetize my emotional pain instead of feeling and working through it.
There are some lies we are told about anger that I swallowed. One was that my anger was connected to my Italian heritage. All Italians are loud and swear, so being angry is “just my nature.”
Another lie was not to stuff my anger, but express it or else it may fester. I expressed it, alright – fully, loudly and completely.
One episode from the late 1990s stands out vividly in my memory. I was working in my office at our Cape Canaveral, FL. home. Something came to mind my husband had done, arousing my fury. I have no idea what it was now, that’s how ridiculous fury is. Senseless. I made my way to find him in the garage to unleash on him verbally. As I turned the corner into the hall, I heard a loud voice say “Your anger is a choice!”
I stopped frozen. It was not an audible voice, yet clear and firm. It was the Spirit of the Lord speaking to me in my thoughts. I recognized God’s tone and it was not pleasant. That moment of revelation or insight … whatever term you know it by … changed my life.
Up to that moment, I honestly thought I had no choice when anger rose in my emotions. I had been ruled by emotion for so long that it seemed natural and my sole option. I was handcuffed by anger and didn’t know how to break free.
Ridding my heart of anger was a process because it deeply embedded itself.
The angry person I became in the aftermath of divorce was not the original me. It was twisted me. It did not happen overnight, as I often wished it would. Retraining my responses spanned years, unfortunately. Some heartbreak causes grief to bury itself at subterranean levels (so it seems), but Jesus’ love is more intense than even the cruelest sorrow. I discovered a Jesus so tender, one whose kind affections marinated my wounded heart thoroughly, year after year.
“The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). “Yahweh is a faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4 NIV).
My healing came largely through worship music.
Christian music is not all the same. I discovered songs thick with grace, oozing viscous caramel-like love that filled every gap in my heart. This is why selected the blog name Healing Writer. My heart is no longer shattered, but whole and vibrant due to the tender, benevolent touch of Jesus.
We reap in kind to what we sow.
Those who plant apple seeds should expect to harvest apples. Those who sow anger should expect to receive what anger naturally produces. “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8). Living a life of carnality and sin and expecting to inherit heaven is akin to planting cockle burrs (a course weeds with burrs) and waiting for roses.
In Mark chapter four, Jesus said the parable of the farmer planting seeds is a clue to unraveling all the other parables. This means that if you really want the kingdom of God in an area of your life, you better be sowing God’s Word on that subject there. Remember Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself, the soil produces.” The indestructible seed of the Word of God is what causes the Kingdom to flourish in our lives.
So if we need physical healing, we should be feeding healing scriptures into our minds. If we need a financial breakthrough, meditate and speak aloud verses on finances, etc. Just like we plant flower seeds to get a flower garden or vegetable seeds in an edible garden, we must plant the type of scriptural seed corresponding to whatever fruit we desire a harvest.
There were several aspects to my liberation from anger. Not all are included here. The main components were:
- recognizing my anger as sin.
- repenting of it and asking God to teach me how to overcome it.
- receiving the understanding from the Lord that my anger is my choice and I could choose to leash it. I would not explode and it would not fester.
- releasing my anger to God in prayer. Discussing the situation with Him and listening to His viewpoint on the matter. Gaining heavens perspective on it.
- Forgiving the one who caused the hurt, rather than judging them.
- Reciting 1 Corinthians 13 aloud to retrain my mind on how to behave.
When we assume the role of judge, we usurp God’s role. While it may empower us temporarily, that empowerment is an illusion. The truth is that we do not truly trust that God will perform the judgment He promises. We do not believe that He is the supreme Judge, Elohi Misphat, the God of Justice (Isaiah 30:18).
If we actually trusted God’s promise to vindicate us, we would release our pain, anger, and desire for retribution, knowing the punishment and wrath Christ promises to pour out is far more intense than the puny anger and bitterness we hold against our oppressors. Can you accept this promise of Revelation 21: 27 “Nothing impure will ever enter it (The Holy City/New Jerusalem), nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life?”
Remember that foxes are cunning and crafty animals, and so is our flesh life. “We catch the lions and bears but oftentimes miss the foxes” (Brian Simmons, The Sacred Journey). The Bible tells us what these little fox compromises are, but I’ll lay some out here: pride, slander, gossip, anger, cursing, cursing in jest, wasting time, worldly thinking, speaking too quickly, defending ourselves, being touchy or critical toward others, acting negative and complaining frequently, grumbling, impatience, neglect of prayer, exaggeration with the aim of self-promotion and an independent spirit.
- It’s okay to be angry at God. He can handle it. Keep talking with Him about it.
- Please stop procrastinating. Stop justifying your anger and see it for what it is. A signpost of wreckage.
- Who do you need to release by forgiving today?
- Have you forgiven yourself?
Action Assignment: Type or hand write one scripture verse on the topic of love that speaks to you, stirring you to love others. Put it in the first person. Place it where you see it several times a day. Commit to speak this verse aloud daily for the next week. See how it influences your thoughts. Remember, His Word is alive, so it will change you. Here is the one I have taped to my PC monitor:
“I am patient with others. I am kind. I do not envy or boast.
I am not proud or rude, not selfish, not easily angered.
I don’t keep a record of wrongs.
I always protect, always trust, always hope,
always persevere in my relationships.”
Prayer Starter – Lord Jesus, you are love. I must have love developed within me to the point that it alone is my first response to every situation. I want my every thought to line up with Your Word and originate from love, so teach me Your loving ways. Make me Your love apprentice, Jesus that I may show indiscriminate compassion to all as You do. Weave my life into a tapestry of love. Teach me everything there is to know of You. I want to know the mystery that is Christ. Amen.
Christian inspirational writer of truth that makes darkness tremble. Author of Lion in My Garden devotional.