A short while ago I wrote on Apologizing…and how I will apologize for what “I” believe is wrong….which is problematic if I didn’t see anything wrong with my action but my spouse does see something wrong with it. Or vice versa. Has that happened to anyone? Yes?
Sometimes we run into a situation where our spouse is saying “I don’t understand why that made you hurt/angry…I wouldn’t be if I was in your situation.” Maybe that stops us….or maybe that makes us even more hurt/angry. At an Anger workshop lead by Dr Gary Chapman, we learned a few principles to help sort this out.
First thing he addressed was the purpose of anger. Yes there is a purpose for it! Anger in itself is not wrong…it’s an emotion received being created in God’s image. Recall the story of Jesus overthrowing tables and kicking money changers out of the Temple. He was furious at the people who were supposed to be enabling God’s people to worship but were instead cheating them through inflated pricing and taxes. Anger comes when a sense of “right” has been violated and should serve as a catalyst or motivator to drive positive change. Probably all social reforms or humanitarian or justice organizations grew out of someone’s anger over the oppression, plight or injustices others faced. Boiling it down, anger should fuel restoration and reconciliation.
There are two types of human anger (God’s anger is always right and just): Definitive and Distorted
Definitive anger is where an actual wrong has been done as defined and derived from the principles in the Bible. It’s something that God would be angry about…things like abuse, cheating, deceit, hypocrisy, selfishness, oppression, etc. Distorted anger is where no actual wrong has been done but rather, your personal expectations/agenda/demand has not been met…things like your spouse forgot to deposit the cheque and now you have to delay buying that TV, or your spouse’s illogical reasoning is driving you nuts, or the dishes/laundry wasn’t put away the way you wanted…again, etc. This type of anger-trigger is the most common with us humans. This type of anger is born out of our selfish pride and self-centered nature…and this nature is also what keeps us from recognizing when we really have done wrong and need to apologise.
It’s a slow process, a couple steps forward and many steps back, but Skywalker and I are working on these things:
- When angry…stop to ask “What wrong has been done? Is this definitive or distorted anger?”
- If distorted…confess it as selfishness and seek apology for being angry at the other person. You can also negotiate for something to change if it really bothers you. If that doesn’t work out…accept the humanity of the other person and cover it with love, grace and acceptance.
- If definitive…lovingly point out to the other person what was wrong, if s/he repents then forgive. If s/he refuses to admit wrong then release the person for God to deal with…and release your hurt/anger to God as well. You can forgive in faith and pray for their restoration and reconciliation to God and yourself.
- Fight the urge to retaliate…”In your anger do not sin“…as that will only deepen the hold anger has on you, turning into resentment and hatred which will eat up your life.
- Do GOOD to the other person instead…recognize that you’ve probably done (or will do) the same things and as it’s God’s KINDNESS that leads us to repentance, your kindness would certainly help. =)
Imagine if we all acted less on our distorted anger and acted more on definitive anger, our marriages…heck, the world would be a different place!