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Toxic Anger: Part 2

If anger is like a fire that causes great damage in the body, in one’s spiritual life and in relationship with others when mishandled then…what does handling anger well look like?

In the first part of this article, “Toxic Anger: Part 1,” I outlined the original design God had for anger, common roots for anger and what happens when anger is mishandled. In this second part of the article, I will review what it looks like to handle anger in a biblical and healthy way that has been particularly useful and life-changing for me.

 

 

Taking out the Trash

I love this acronym model that Mike Trillo, author of What Does God Really Want , taught me. “RUFL”–R= Release, U= Understand, F=Forgive, L= Love–which serves as an easy way to remember the steps to take whenever a situation or person stirs up anger, annoyance, frustration, offense in your life.

1. Release

I will never forget the times I would work through things with my counselor and we would touch upon some painful past experiences and I would want to just blow over it but she would challenge me to recognize real anger.

“I’m not angry,” I would say often. 

As I wrote in Learning How to Feel Again:

“(Emotions and anger) just builds..and builds..and builds up. And then we seal the top of the ‘pit’ up and we put a nice ‘Christian hat’ on the top of it and say…

“Oh no…we, Christians, we don’t get angry! Oh no, I’m not angry, I’m just “frustrated.”

Do you know how toxic that can be?

In a form of pride and sense of righteousness, we stuff our emotions and we don’t allow ourselves to feel them…when we don’t grieve when we should and when we don’t allow ourselves to be sad or to articulate what’s really bothering us…”

 

What does it look like to truly release the anger?

It’s not common for Christians to display outwards signs of anger- cussing, punching things, throwing things…but the truth is that if we stuff true anger and feelings away in our pride and sense of self-righteousness, there still exists ”defiled anger” (unreleased anger that causes a ‘bitter root’ that I talk about in Part 1) in the heart.

What does that mean?

That means that even if you don’t cuss outwardly, if you’re thinking it or feeling it, it’s still inside and it’s still sin.

In Colossians 3:8 says, “But now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips!”

Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).”

And lastly, Matthew 12:34-36 “You offspring of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil (wicked)? For out of the fullness (the overflow, the superabundance) of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things. But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking) word they speak.”

The guidance here is to learn how to release it in a healthy way.

That means that if you have to go into your room and vent or take a drive alone and speak to the person you’re angry with as if they are there or write an email to them that you never send….do it.

That means if you need to slam down that body pillow and punch a punching bag to get some of that aggression out, then…do it.

This may seem extremely strange to many. But I would challenge you to consider because I thought it was too! However, this practice has done wonders in my personal life.

 

The Process of Ridding Yourself of Toxic Anger

My counselor taught me this process and I thought I would share this helpful process with you.

A. Confess (out loud) your defiled anger to the Lord

Colossians 3:8 instructs that we put away and “rid” ourselves of all ”anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from (our) lips!”

Keep in mind that as you do this, you are purging out the anger and the toxity that is already in there. King David poured his heart to God and God called him “a man after God’s heart.”

This should be done alone and not spewed out to others (don’t defile others).

B. When finished (and you may have to go through this process several times as things come up), ask Jesus to forgive you for carrying the defiled anger.

As you ask for forgiveness, it’s key that you also receive in faith His forgiveness. “God, please forgive me for holding this defiled anger against ______. Now, in faith, I receive Your forgiveness.”

Remember, Jesus already made a way on the cross and His forgiveness and redemption, like a coupon, needs to be redeemed in faith.

C. Ask Him to cleanse you and the room (or whatever location you’re at) from any defiling words and put them under His Blood.

The Bible says that words hold the power of life and death.

Spiritually, the exercise of venting and releasing that anger can cause some spiritual ‘trash’ in your atmosphere and environment. It’s important to ask God for cleansing of not only your location but of you..in your spirit and inner self.

Thank God for being faithful to do this cleansing.

D. Ask Him to fill your spirit, soul and body with His rightness of being, peace and joy.

Like anything poured out, it needs to get filled with something again.

Venting out toxic and defiled anger will require a filling up of something different…of God’s spirit and holiness.

2. Understand

The second stage in the “RUFL” process is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes….trying to understand their perspective, trying to assume the best intent.

Jesus did that, even when the people hurting him the most did not have the best intent!

When he was being crucified, he prayed, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Learning to understand other people’s perspectives really does help the process of dealing with defiled anger and taking it to the next level which is freedom and true forgiveness.

3. Forgive

In much of my writing (particularly Healing Father Wounds: Part 1 and When You Need a Heart Transplant), I talk about this concept of unforgiveness being a luxury that people cannot afford.

In Healing Father Wounds: Part 1, I write:

“Have you ever understood that unforgiveness is not really an option?

Sure, it’s an option if you want to stay in bondage forever but it’s really not an option. Spiritually, Matthews 6:14-15 (Amplified) says “For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you.But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [theirreckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.”

Did God just say He won’t forgive you if you don’t forgive others? Yes.

Think about eternity and that’s scary. I need God to forgive me for all that I, myself, have done!

Not only is forgiveness not optional for rightstanding with God, forgiveness is imperative for the freed life. Unless you plan on being in bondage all your life, plan on forgiving!

…But you will never feel like forgiving. It just won’t come up out of the ‘goodness of your heart.’ It’s a supernatural change in your heart that only God can do. (don’t worry, you don’t have to change yourself) But, it will require you to make the choice.

You make the choice, God will make the change.

I love the saying, “Choose your way into a feeling. Don’t feel your way into a choice,” because with the decision to step out and make the choice to forgive, the feelings will come! (Trust me, they do.) But you will never feel like forgiving first. You cannot feel like forgiving then choose to forgive.

Make the choice first.”

To forgive is to give that person an absolutely clean slate. It’s to “fore- give,” to give grace and mercy to someone even before we think they deserve it.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to trust or be close to them if they are not ‘safe’ but forgiveness (like in the parable of the King and slave) is when we replicate God in His forgiveness towards us.

In fact, forgiving others is a pre-requisite for God to forgive us!

I like what Mike Trillo teaches…that forgiveness it not just forgiving the person but for the individual instances people hurt you. So not just saying “I forgive ____person” but “I forgive _____ person when they did ____, ____, ____, etc.” The more specific you can get, the better.

4. Love

Lastly, you really know that you have gone beyond removing toxic and defiled anger from your life (sin)to a place of true freedom when you can really love that person that hurt you.

To love is to be able to have that heart transplant needed to be like Jesus to that other person.

To love someone who has offended you is to be able to release them from the little prison of unforgiveness and bitterness that you held them in in your heart and be able to actually bless them in your heart and in your prayers.

To love someone who has hurt you is nothing short of a miracle and something we utterly cannot do without the pouring of God’s love into our hearts for that person.

Thinking good positive thoughts, mustering up our own strength, striving to be a “good person” isn’t true freedom and love…

It will require a complete surrender to God and an infilling as you ask Him to fill you with His heart, His supernatural love for that person.

 

HEART CHECK

1. What are your initial thoughts about what I write about here about releasing anger? Is there some resistance or the desire to continue “stuffing down” the anger and emotions?

2. Is there anyone that has hurt or offended you recently? If so, I would recommend trying out this “RUFL” process with the situation and see how it works for you!

3. Can you detect any negative impact on your body or relationship with God or others because of unreleased anger? Please describe.

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