What Gets Your Goat? Day 7
What gets on your nerves? What makes you see red? What really gets your goat? What makes your blood boil? What puts you on the warpath? If you have no idea what I’m talking about, these are all idioms for getting angry.
I made a list of the things that make me mad, and I’ll share a few of those things with you.
How you respond to your own anger reflects our heart condition. Sometimes anger can be righteous. Jesus exhibited anger against the hard-hearted Pharisees, and over the greedy moneychangers that desecrated the temple, showing extreme displeasure for their sins. Followers of Christ are justified in becoming angry over the evils such as human trafficking, abuse, and child pornography, but…
Anger is never a justification to sin.
Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin…”
Lisa Harper from Christianity Today in her article, What is Righteous Anger?, writes, “if our outrage results in restoring people into loving, healing relationships with Jesus, it’s righteous anger.”
Last night, I excitedly greeted my husband came home from work, but he cut me off because he needed to do something real quick. I was disappointed, but I attempted to graciously let him go. Then we were trying to talk, something he said unintentionally hurt my feelings again. I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying something mean, but as we continued talking, I could feel myself getting more and more upset, even though I attempted to shove it down. Finally, my kindness fizzled completely and I angrily shoved him away. I had attempted to be the better person, but I failed.
Notice how many times I wrote I attempted. I really wasn’t being selfless in my motives, trying to love my husband even if he had hurt me. It had been an attempt to get him to love me, to superficially cover the real issue so that I would be happy and satisfied. Instead of putting self aside and loving him unconditionally, instead of sending a quick prayer heavenward for wisdom, I tried to do things on my own, dishonoring God and my husband in my reaction, and making myself more miserable.
Dear lady friend, if you aren’t married, perhaps you haven’t had a major argument with your future husband, but trust me, it will come. Stress tends to bring out the worst in us. Whether it happens during the pressures of wedding planning or during the confusion of being a newlywed, it is inevitable that you will get upset and angry over something.
Perhaps dear lady friend, you are married, and like me, you struggle with a short fuse. Things irritate you and you are quick to respond, often in an unloving manner. D. James Kennedy, pastor, evangelist, and Christian broadcaster, “describes people with a short fuse as those who ‘may speak the truth, but they are about as loving as a bucketful of hydrochloric acid.’” Ouch!
I am so grateful that the Lord has worked in my heart and has helped me make great progress in this area, but I still struggle, as evident of my unkind response to my husband last night.
Knowing how to respond Biblically when you get angry is essential in marriage.
Responding Biblically to Anger
First, you need to know what God says about anger before you’ll ever know how to respond in a Christlike manner and how to fight fairly.
*An easy way to remember is to think A-E-I-O-U
Avoid blowing up immediately
Take a step back and breathe. A commonly recommended exercise is to count to ten. James 1:19-20 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Examine your own head/heart first
Ask yourself before confronting the other person: Am I taking these actions to be right… or righteous? Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.” Remember anger is never an excuse to sin.
Identify the reason for your anger
There’s a time and place for anger. Arguing loudly with your fiancé at your engagement party isn’t Biblical, and neither is confronting your husband about an issue you have in front of his family, friends, or your children.
Hope Christian Counseling Services says this about identifying occasions for anger, “We must identify the real cause of our anger, the issue or the problem – not the person who caused our anger, but the issue rose by that person. Then we can address that issue rather than the person. Even though the person may be responsible for the issue, our intention as Christians regarding that person must be to help him rather than punish him.”
Don’t hold past offenses against your fiancé/spouse. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “…love keeps no record of wrongs.” Bringing up issues that you’ve previously resolved or that you’ve previously had is unfair.
Explosive confrontation, inappropriate timing and place, irrationally lashing out at your fiancé/spouse, and (this is one I struggle with) punishing your fiancé/spouse by withholding physical affection are never appropriate responses to anger. Identify the root issue, and kindly confront your loved one without attacking them personally or neglecting them cruelly.
Observe your anger from God’s perspective
Is this something you should be mad about in the first place? Will confronting the person really make the situation better? Forgetting to take the trash out once or stepping on your toes accidentally is not a reason to blow a fuse. Learn the difference between what to work out and what to let go. Proverbs 19:11 says, “…it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”
Read my article I Take Thee to Be My Husband for examples of what patiently bearing all things is not and for some instances when confronting your husband or seeking help would be Biblical.
The greatest of these is love. 1 John 4:16 says, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
Remember you love your fiancé/husband. Respond lovingly.
Unplug angry fuses by going to God
Dialogue regularly with God. Take your worries, concerns, and hurts before the Lord first before responding angrily. Ask the Holy Spirit to impart wisdom on you to know how to handle situations when anger rises. Invest time in Scriptures, focusing on how God has forgiven you and calls you to forgive others.
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
1 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Love is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrong…” Learning how to respond Biblically to anger will help you fight fairly in your marriage. Forgive readily. Act respectfully. Love unconditionally.
This is Day 7 of the ½ marathon blogging challenge from the CMBA. For the first 13 days in October, you will get a nonstop taste of my writing. To see the official rules, click here. To see other CMBA bloggers’ posts, click here.
I’d love to hear from you…
How do you deal with conflict in your marriage? Do you struggle with anger? How can we, as a community of grace, pray for you? What are some examples of ways you can fight fairly in marriage?