It’s OK to be angry, and seriously I think we could get more angry, about a lot of things, and it would actually help.
In fact the Bible tells us to be angry! Just don’t let it consume you away from from Gods presence.
Be angry but do not sin;
do not let the sun go down on your anger.
Anger is an emotion, just as much as joy is. It is God given and certainly is part of the character of God.
All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. Richard Rohr
It’s just what we do with our anger that matters
Generally I have noticed in myself that I either
a. Bottle it up inside.
It’s like I don’t know what to do with all these thoughts and feelings so I stuff them down. Without realising it though, I am actually preserving the expression for another day. This repression leaks out into affecting my health, relationships and other things that I hold dear.
If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. Richard Rohr
I react with messy words and pus all over what or whom that is causing my button to be pushed. It isn’t pretty, and I then feel the whispers of shame start to swirl around me.
Are you like this?
Admit it, you are in someway like this. We all are.
We find ourselves in a mind mess of either slow building resentment and bitterness, or guilt and shame.
It’s a mess either way and terrible for your mental health.
What if there was a third way?
An option where you could express your anger safely and have whatever the problem is gently sorted out.
What if there was someone who could work on your behalf? Who knew the whole situation you were coming up against, and could work the angles for a good outcome.
In our rebuilding journey of the city wall of Jerusalem, we have encountered some harsh critics. Some mockers at what God was doing. They rained down ridicule on the builders and this stirred up anger in our leader Nehemiah.
What was he to do?
Ignore it and let the pressure build up and eventually wear down the soul of the people?
Trade fire with fire? Let off a few salvos of words back at the taunters and expend energy and time that could have been spent on the rebuild?
No instead he expresses his Red (angry) Dot in prayer.
Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders. Nehemiah 4:4, 5
What’s a Red Dot?
When you go into your local shopping mall you will discover a map to help you find your way around. On it will be various shop locations and often a big red dot with an arrow pointing towards it with the words ‘You are here’.
Your location, your honest reality, your place.
If you were willing to be truly honest with yourself, and maybe someone safe, how would you describe yourself without holding back on the words.
Would you swear? Would you cry? Would you well up with thankfulness?
Its’ important to own up to where you are right now because that is actually where the waiting presence of God is, and where God wants to be with you.
Every journey begins where you are. Larry Crabb
Nehemiah expresses his Red Dot anger with the situation.
I think if God was sitting with Nehemiah, around a cup of coffee or tea, offering some soul talk, I think they would respond in this way.
Thanks Nehemiah for expressing your heart safely with me.
Please be as open and expressive as you like. Let it all out. I can take it. I have broad shoulders.
There are battles going on here and forces in action that you have no awareness of. I am God over all.
Your prayers encourage me to move on your behalf. We will do what we can do and you must do what you can do.
Spirit (Holy) will guide you and give you strength to keep moving forward.
Leave the outcome up to me, I love their hearts as much as I do your own and I want to progress them towards me as much as I do with you.
Be open to seeing the way I want you to respond. My ways aren’t always the most obvious or the easiest. This is where we build trusting faithful relationship.
I am glad that you see I have choice in the matter of whether I forgive. I love your heart and you’re doing a great work.
Keep focused on the rebuild and don’t let yourself be distracted by their taunts.
So Nehemiah prays and gives it over to God.
He then takes action, that I believe was inspired out of a mind that had found some respite from the having to take action itself.
The mind was rested and so was open to fresh and creative input. We will explore his actions in further posts.
Express your emotions in Red Dot rawness
Express your emotions in reality, don’t hold back.
God wants to hear your red dot even if your conclusions and thoughts are all jumbled and messy.
If you can, express them personally with some one who is safe. Someone who will just listen. Someone who won’t try to fix you, judge you or give you ‘good advice’.
Perhaps a safe place would be a journal. Getting those thoughts out on to paper can really defuse a lot of pressure.
The PAPA prayer might be a good place to start.
Hand the situation over to God.
See yourself handing this problem over to God. Whatever is pushing your buttons, pick it up, lay it in the hands of gracious God. Surrender the need to win on your terms.
Are you open to being wrong about the interpretation of the situation? Are you open to seeing things differently?
God, who knows the bigger picture, may well want you to see things with a different viewpoint.
Be creatively open to new solutions
I am constantly amazed at how after I have surrendered the outcome of whatever is causing me to be angry, it is then my mind is open to fresh new ideas.
I think this is how God wants us to be. To grow in dependency on them to provide the solutions we need.
Questions to consider
- What stirs inside of you when you hear that it is OK to be angry?
- What is your default response to when your ‘button gets pushed’? Bottle it up? Explode it out? Prayerfully attend to it?
- What would it be like to surrender the outcome over to the All knowing God? Would it free your mind up to new ideas? Are you playing God?
Quotes to ponder on
- All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. Richard Rohr
- How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it. Marcus Aurelius
- If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion. Richard Rohr
- Every journey begins where you are. Larry Crabb
Image by Eduard Militaru
Further reading – How to stand firm when the rotten are thrown
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