I found a variety of translations for this part of the verse (we’re still in 1 Corinthians 13:5):
is not easily angered (NIV)
is not easily provoked (KJV)
doesn’t fly off the handle (Msg)
Anger – ‘a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism’ (Merriam-Webster)
I would like to say that’s me, that I’m slow to anger and always able to keep my emotions in check.
Um, not so much.
I’m not an angry person, I can say that much. But there’s a lot of ‘displeasure and antagonism’ that goes on in my head that takes a lot of effort to not let It out of my mouth, and at the end of the day, it still has a similar effect. because anger affects us and hurts us more than the person it’s directed at.
Yes, we can say ‘they made me angry’, but really, no-one can make us feel or do anything. How we respond to anything is entirely up to us, and we have to live with our responses.
When we act in anger toward someone else – in any degree – it causes them pain. It is easy to give into feeling angry and responding in a way that blames someone else. It is more difficult to look at why we’re feeling the way we do, and tempering our emotions and responses in a manner that won’t hurt someone else.
Anger results from something that happens that actually causes us to feel emotions that we’re not comfortable with – pain, fear, confusion, loneliness, shame, sadness. Rather than look closer at what we’re really feeling, and why we’re feeling that way, we respond in anger and end up hurting someone else in the process. You could say getting angry is an avoidance process – blame someone or something else rather than look at ourselves.
Being angry with people is never helpful. Being angry ranges from that feeling of frustration (displeasure) over the dishes not being done and grumbling about it, to the extreme of becoming physically and verbally violent and causing great damage. In both scenarios, we have to live with what we’re thinking and feeling, and we’re the ones who have to live with the discomfort that anger brings.
For me, there’s a lot that goes on in my head that I don’t verbally or physically express when I get angry, but I still have to deal with those feelings regardless. When I yell at my kids, it’s about me, not them, and whilst I might feel better for about 30 seconds, I feel worse for a lot longer because I know I haven’t acted in love. When I sit and stew over someone I have to deal with who’s particularly frustrating, I’m the one who had to deal with how I’m feeling, and they never even know what’s gone through my head. When I don’t keep myself in check and I speak before I think in the heat of the moment, I have to live with not only what I’m feeling that caused me to speak words that wound, but I then have to live with knowing that I hurt someone.
I have found that breathing and counting is a wonderful tool for dealing with anger, as simple as it sounds. Count to 5 and breathe deep before responding. This small pause in time prevents pain and wounding, for both myself and the people I love.
What are your ‘hot spots’ when it comes to anger? How do you deal with it?