This question has been brought home to me recently. My husband has gone to God and the word as he has not in years and his practice of daily living has changed significantly. He is gentler, calmer, and quieter. This only heightens the clarity of my anger. It doesn’t make me angrier; it just makes it clearer when I am angry. Anger has never been my husband’s besetting sin. But it is one of mine.
How has that played out in my life?
I don’t hit my children. I did spank them when they were little, but not when I was angry. (Which meant that sometimes they didn’t get a spanking because I didn’t calm down.)
But I yell. And I have a “scary” yell. I know it. For years I thought I had overcome this tendency, this evidence of a besetting sin. I didn’t yell at my roommates, or my family, or my husband. So I must have been over it.
Then my children were born. And I love them. They are very dear to me. And I get so frustrated with them, so angry sometimes, that I yell- loudly and wrongly. (Yes, I think it is possible to yell without being wrong. When I call them downstairs I am yelling, but not wrongly.)
I have worked on this audible exhibition of my anger for years. I used to pay them a quarter when I yelled. Then I put it into a kitty. (Didn’t want them to try to get me to yell.) But then I also often made excuses. “If you hadn’t talked back to me…” “If you would have done what I asked you to do….”
The problem isn’t really my yelling. The problem is my anger. And it is, in fact, one of my besetting sins. When I was younger, I told God I wasn’t willing to give up my anger. “It’s who I am. If I am not angry, I’ll be someone else. How do I know I’ll like that person?”
Doesn’t that make clear to you that anger is one of my besetting sins? I clung to it as a baby clings to its mother.
It also played out in my relationship with my husband. Early on in our marriage I was often furious when he could make me give over my anger and laugh. I felt as if he were cheating. He wasn’t “letting” me be angry. He was taking over my life and taking away my anger. What was I thinking?!
It has been years since I repented and asked God to take away my anger. But He hasn’t done it. Maybe because I am expecting him to take all my anger, bundle it up, and burn it in the backyard like my grandfather used to do with the trash.
My anger is the burden I have to give to God every day. And I don’t always. It is one of my besetting sins. It is a sin that is easy for me to fall into. I have dug the ruts in my heart, mind, brain, and spirit deep for anger. I only have to let go a little to be angry.
And I want to abjure it.
God, I have let anger rule my life for too many years. It has impacted my relationship with R, with the boys, and with you. Please help me to fill in those ruts, to change the habits of years, to let go of the exultation in anger. Please help me to be a less angry person, being angry only as you would be angry. In the name of Jesus, amen.