I’ll be the first to admit I have a temper. As I shared on the podcast, I’m the kind of person who enjoys a good fight. While my penchant for conflict served me well in the career world, it’s not as appealing within the walls of my home.
I first recognized my anger in my late teens and early twenties. By then, old habits were dying hard. My temper flared easily, almost too quickly. Most concerning to me was how my angry nature would affect my future kids. I knew if I kept walking this tempestuous road, I would inevitably become the Yelling Mom.
I don’t want to create a culture of anger in our home, but if old habits aren’t changed, I am destined to create the very culture I want to avoid. Adeline might only be six months old, but she’s already found ways to frustrate me – as any young child can! Her birth was the impetus to the development of my new temper; one without a fuse attached to it.
Six months isn’t enough time for a complete character overhaul. I’m still asking questions, like:
- How do I deal with my anger, even when it seems justified?
- How do I get my message across effectively without using my wrath?
- How do I not let something bother me that REALLY REALLY bothers me?!
Answering these questions forced me to look in Scripture, to the One example of anger management we can trust the most.
If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you. (Prov. 25:21-22)
Were you surprised by where that verse came from? At first glance, I was sure Jesus said it. But it was Solomon, not Jesus, who wrote those words of wisdom.
The book of Proverbs is in the Old Testament. The Old Testament law and writings reflect a covenant of peace between God and man. In exchange for His protection, provision, direction, and blessing, all God asked of man was to serve Him with whole heart, mind, soul and strength. God’s law wasn’t designed as a binding list of rules but as a guide into holy attitudes. The law was meant to help Israel serve God with their entire being.
It follows, then, that if our hearts are humble enough to feed an enemy, they will be even more gracious to those within our own homes. God’s expectation for attitudes is high, and Jesus brought us back to basics when He began His ministry on earth, repeating this Proverbial command:
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28)
If we are called by Jesus to love, bless, and pray for the worst of our acquaintances, we are called to do the same to the irritating, provocative, frustrating people within our walls. It might not seem fair, but God doesn’t want us exacting emotional vengeance – however justified – on others.
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Rom. 12:19)
Our anger doesn’t accomplish the righteousness of God, which is our whole purpose as Christ-followers.
So then, beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (Jas. 1:19-20)
With substantial proof for why my temper isn’t “righteous anger” (as much as I tried to justify it), I came up with a few practical ways to stop Yelling Mom from emerging – before it’s too late.
My anger is almost always a response to stress. I get irritated, snappy, and rude when I’m stressed by too many demands at once. As I watch myself become the very person I don’t want to be, my irritation builds even further in a vicious cycle of anger and frustration. More often than not, the whole cycle can be stopped by simply reassessing my priorities.
Stress is often brought about by the tension we feel when we have too many priorities at one time. It can also come through procrastination or the tension between working and relaxing. Working toward utilizing our time in a self-disciplined way can go a long way toward reducing stress. (Brook Wayne, Pitchin’ a Fit)
When we feel overwhelmed, we feel depleted, and about the last thing we want to do is invest in our families, yet cultivating a spirit of love produces in us a deep-rooted realization that people are more important than things. (Brook Wayne)
Know your triggers.
I know that stress triggers my anger. But my temper also flares when I am afraid or insecure.
I have many days where I get caught up in my own head. Thoughts of inadequacy and insecurity tell me I’m not pretty enough, fit enough, nice enough, or friendly enough. I think, “I need to stop wearing lipstick, maybe people think I’m too high maintenance.” Or: “I better not share that blog post. People will think I’m a know it all.” Or: “I can’t say anything about motherhood because my baby is only 6 months old.”
Many of my insecurities have grains of truth to them. As I turn them around in my head my stomach starts to turn too. I feel undesirable, unlikeable, and – sooner than later – angry. I get afraid I won’t make or keep deep friendships. I fear the opinions of others. I start making plans for a complete Phylicia-do-over. The stress of my mental turmoil makes me react in anger at the slightest irritation.
Living like this, Yelling Mom is inevitable.
While the impulse of self-protection, caused by the physical reaction occurring in our brains when we feel threatened, is certainly not sin, what we choose to do with that impulse often is. When we lash out at others, wrongly blame them, or allow bitterness to take hold in our hearts, we have crossed the line from a physical reaction to making a moral (or immoral, in this case) choice. (Israel Wayne)
Anger is often a response of self-protection. Insecurity and fear make me (falsely) believe I am in emotional danger. When I lash out or blame others for how I feel, I have crossed a line. Knowing my triggers stops me from crossing that line. When I sense those insecurities rising in my heart, I can immediately commit them to God and acknowledge them for the lies that they are.
I am sure I’m not alone in my anger – in fact, I know I’m not. The quotes shared in this post are from Israel and Brook Wayne’s new book Pitchin’ a Fit: Overcoming Angry and Stressed Out Parenting. I am so glad I found it before Adeline could get much older. The concepts there are applicable to any person who struggles with bitterness and anger, parent or otherwise. And today, if you buy the book, you get the e-book 4 Days to a Forever Marriage by Gary Smalley for free! Click here to learn more about Pitchin’ a Fit.
Do you struggle with anger or resentment? How do you overcome it? Share below.