In your anger do not sin: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Ephesians 4:26
Anger in and of itself is not a sin but if you are like me, you never learned healthy ways to communicate, express or feel anger. Therefore all expressions of anger lead to sin and the lines differentiating sin and anger are blurry.
As a woman I learned early on that my emotions were unacceptable, that the depth of the sadness, grief and anger that often well up are not to be exposed to others, it is not safe to examine the minefield of tenderness burrowed within me. How many times have words and thoughts pressed against my throat, desperate to be spoken through my lips but in betrayal to my heart, I choked them back, the injustice a bitter gal in my mouth, and then quickly busied myself in tasks? Probably like you, too many to count.
Just as millions of women before me, I cap my need to breathe it out, bottling, packing it away, but anger and sadness need to be freed from inside or these things ferment.
Sooner or later the build up becomes too expansive and like a bottle of carbonated soda shaken vigorously, any puncture in the packing results in an explosion of sticky, dark, foamy emotion, which gives birth to sin.
This sin can look like kicking the dog, throwing an adult sized temper tantrum when a toe is stubbed, losing it completely when a child spills something on the floor, or responding in disrespectful, rude and short tones to a spouse. Most of the time I am not even aware of the cause that has me tangled up in knots, so deeply stored away are the emotions of this life: this is why we build walls around us, anchoring our time in busyness and deeds: the more we do, the less time there is to notice the pressure building.
This is why we numb out. Whatever is in us will make its way out.
For it is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.Luke 6:45
Learning how to share my heart, fear, worry, anxiety, sadness and anger in a way that doesn’t break down the fabric of my relationships is the season that God has me in right now.
The shame and paralyzing fear that weaves itself around my tongue when I long to speak but cannot, is overwhelming. So often I hold it back and seek other ways to open the lid slowly, allowing fragments to escape, in short and measured breaths.
We need tools and methods to sit in our anger, ones that are healthy expressions of our image. We need safe people to lean on, speak to and glean wisdom from.
The propensity to complain and to make myself a victim is hardwired into my DNA, a wide road leading straight to hell. Without the truth spoken in love from someone anchored in Jesus, I flail about, creating my own version of truth and sink deeper into the mire that leads to sin. These expressions hurt those I love, damaging and reinforcing patterns and habits well grooved into my heart.
Too often the abundance of my heart is stale and undealt with sadness and/or anger and too often this is what erupts from my mouth. The Gospel asks that I absorb the pain rather than give it to others. This doesn’t mean I martyr myself, and drown in my emotions, but rather I allow the heart of Jesus to reconcile me to the truth and allow the Spirit to embolden me to speak when fear would rather I shut up.
Anger is a righteous emotion. Sadness, grief and pain all mirror the heart of our God. But the lion that prowls around us waits to devour and divide with these feelings, causing conflict, pain and isolation.
He invites us to a different narrative, one in which we seek the Spirit in our grieving and allow Him to lead, to soften our hearts and quiet our explosiveness in order to reveal the Gospel of life in our prudent demonstrations of what we experience.
We need Jesus. We need safe places to practice this new way of feeling and communicating. We need wisdom and discernment.
All of this takes courage, but He can (if you let Him) make you brave.
Looking for safe places? Fellow wisdom and discernment? We would love to get you connected with our therapists on staff OR signed up for Emotionally Healthy Woman. Both of these resources will help support you on your journey to live freely.