I became an angry black girl in the fourth grade. I hadn’t realized it until my teacher, Mrs. Jefferey-Roebuck told me I needed to change my attitude. I didn’t think I had a bad attitude.
I knew was angry. I was mad because I didn’t live with my biological mother. I was angry because the new boy didn’t like me. I was angry because my hair shrunk when it was wet and all the other girls in class had perms.
But I was totally unaware that anyone else knew I was angry. It turned out, everyone knew I was angry. Because I was brash and abrasive when I dealt with my classmates.
Now, I would love to tell you that my relationship with anger improved but it didn’t.
- My first little boyfriend cheated on me because I wouldn’t put out. When I found out I was angry.
- The next one forced me to put out. That made me feel both angry and powerless. So I decided not to take any junk, trash, or offense from anyone.
- My father moved without telling me and I only found out because I popped up on his doorstep. I was angry and embarrassed.
To me, everything was wrong in my life and nothing was right. That made me angry.
Two Ways Most People Handle Anger
There are two ways most people handle their anger, particularly women:
- Store up all of your anger until someone does something so insignificant that if you were in your right mind you’d ignore them. But instead, you vomit up every undigested ounce of anger and rage.
- Every time someone does you wrong or upsets you, it must be dealt with immediately.
I chose the latter. But neither method is helpful.
In the long run, these behaviors make it hard to form positive, successful relationships because most people with good sense don’t live near active volcanoes. And no one besides the donkey in Shrek has ever tried to live with a fire breathing dragon.
What the Bible Says About Anger
These responses leave no room for God to work in your life and they absolutely put you on the wrong end of Ephesian 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath.”
That scripture seems nearly impossible. How can you be angry without sinning and how can you resolve a conflict before the sunsets without storing up any anger?
Express. Address. Assess.
Express Your Anger
Express your anger, Don’t yell, scream, or cut up his tires.
Tell someone why you are angry—whether you tell God, your best friend, or talk to yourself in the mirror, don’t just absorb that emotion or pretend you don’t feel it. Remember, “to thine ownself be true.”
It’s best talk to someone not directly involved at this stage, so that you don’t create a bigger problem. Use wisdom and discernment when inviting someone into this kind of situation.
If you can’t find anyone who you trust and can remain neutral, you better lay on your floor and talk to your God.
Address Your Anger
Address your anger by speaking to the person who angered you or discussing the event that transpired with the people who participated in it.
Try to use “I” statements and take ownership of your role in the conflict.
This conversation is not to condemn or chastise the person(s) involved, but rather inform them that you are upset. They may not apologize. They may not even be able to comprehend why you’re angry, but you will be free from the burden of your anger.
By addressing your anger without all the screaming or holding it in, your anger is no longer a threat to you or your relationship.
Asses the Situation
Assess the situation after your conversation with those who angered you.
- What do you need to do differently going forward?
- Do you need to be more explicit when speaking to people?
- Do you need to step away from this relationship?
- Do you need to be more forgiving and understanding?
Don’t focus on what that person needs to do. Because you cannot control someone’s behavior. You will always be frustrated if you try to control someone’s behavior.
It’s not going to be easy to be angry without sinning, especially if it has become very ingrained in who you are. Or you don’t have access to the people who hurt you to walk through the Express, Address, Assess cycle.
But it is still possible.
Turn to God, go through the process in prayer with the Lord and remind him of His word, “Anger rests in the bosom of fools and I have decided to no longer be a fool. Please remove this anger from my bosom and restore the peace, joy, and relationships in my life that my anger has corroded, in Jesus name. Amen.”
If you need someone to express your anger to leave a comment. Or if you have a good method to help others deal with their anger please leave a comment.
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I am THRILLED to have Nigeria with us here on the blog today to share her thoughts on anger! It can have such a profound impact on how we relate to others. Her new novel, Seasoned with Grace will be released on Tuesday, July 28th.
In her novel, Grace King allows bitterness to fester and become anger. As a result, she lashes out at the people closest to her…even though they had no involvement with her past pain. Be sure to pick up a copy!
A Bit More About Nigeria
Nigeria Lockley is an author, educator, speaker who resides in Harlem. Her debut novel Born at Dawn is a finalist for a 2015 Wheatley Award for First Fiction. Nigeria also serves as a deaconess and clerk for her church King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Church of God. Visit www.nigerialockley.com to subscribe to her blog, The Neophyte Author and to learn more about her.