My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger.” James 1:19 ERV
"Cloudy, rainy days are perfect for soup." Grandma gathered the ingredients for her prize-winning pea soup recipe. She decided to use her new pressure cooker that night to help the soup cook faster. She smiled to herself. "Oh yes, the family will eat well tonight!"
She checked the rubber sealing ring on the cooker before tightening the lid, then turned up the heat to build up pressure and tenderize the hard, dry peas. Then she left the kitchen to finish some mending.
Within a few minutes, she heard a loud crash in the kitchen. What a mess! The pressure cooker popped its top and pea soup dotted the walls, ceiling and floor. Right away, she knew what happened. Something blocked the steam vent, causing pressure to build up inside the pot with no escape.
Well, supper was a little late that day as Grandma cleaned up the mess and started again, this time using a regular soup pot. We might not have noticed, except that Grandma kept looking at the green polka dots on the ceiling and her new pressure cooker now resided in the attic.
Likewise, when we fail to vent our anger properly, it causes pressure to build up inside us. We may eventually blow up, spewing anger over everyone around us. Or, the pressure will build up to an unhealthy level, causing physical or emotional internal damage.
Today's verse offers sage advice on anger management.
Listen first - this gives you a little space/time to diffuse the emotions of your anger
- Listen to your emotional response to the anger. What triggered your anger? Is it in proportion to the offending event, person or problem or is it magnified out of proportion from past events that weren't dealt with properly?
- Listen to what the other person has to say. We may have made untrue assumptions about something they said or did that caused anger to build up.
Speak second - Take time to choose your words carefully if/when a response is needed
- Speak the truth in love
- Speak in "I" terms about how you feel and not "you" terms which can ignite further anger, hurt or retaliation in others.
- Talk about the problem with a counsellor or pastor first to gain an outside perspective if you are having difficulty.
Keep control of your anger - don't let it control you.
- channel it into a healthy activity
- use it as a healthy motivator - for example, an emotionally wounded person becoming a helper for other victims
- practice forgiveness. It doesn't let the offending person off the hook for their actions - but it does relieve you of the need for getting even.
Lord help me to properly vent my anger so that I don't hurt myself or those around me. Amen.