It was a stellar autumn afternoon in Colorado. Kara and her boyfriend Jeff had been out hiking. She loved how the brilliant yellow aspen leaves shimmered against the endless blue sky.
After the hike, they went to Kara’s house to hang out. The couple had been dating for nearly three years, and just at that moment, Kara felt the need to say something that had been pressing on her for weeks. She had to know the answer. So she asked Jeff,
“Do you ever see us marrying each other?”
Jeff paused, looked up at her and said, “I don’t know. I feel like I don’t really know you.”
That was not the answer she was expecting.
What? He doesn’t know me even after three years together?
Kara was shocked. But she attempted to calmly talk with Jeff about it. However, he simply did not want to engage in conversation. Again.
She was always trying to connect and Jeff didn’t talk about feelings. He didn’t share much with her and, it appeared, he didn’t want to share his life with her either. Kara and Jeff broke up shortly after that revealing conversation.
Kara was mad—and she had to find a way to deal with her anger.
Deal so you can heal
Over the years, I’ve learned that identifying, expressing and releasing emotions are essential. You may feel a certain way, but it’s what you do with it that matters.
If you don’t do anything, emotional pain can wreak havoc in your love life. For example, you may sabotage a new relationship because of your unresolved anger from the past.
Sometimes a little annoyance can turn into a larger irritation and result in a whole lot of anger. We all get angry once in a while and that’s normal. But when we ignore it, hide it, or express it in extreme ways, then the anger is a problem.
Here are some practical things you can do to manage anger wisely:
1. Write in a notebook or journal what happened and how you feel about it. State what you’re mad about and why. It helps to identify the feeling and get the anger out of you, to express it.
2. Write an anger action plan. Make a list that includes: what happened, if you need to respond (you may not), how it makes you feel, and options for how you can do things differently in the future. It will be helpful to pray before you begin. For example:
What happened? Tony constantly cuts me off before I can finish a sentence.
Do I need to respond? Yes, I feel like I need to stand up for myself.
How does this make me feel? I feel angry when Tony doesn’t let me finish what I’m saying. I feel like what he has to say is more important than what I want to say. I feel diminished and unimportant.
Options to responding: When Tony cuts in when I’m talking, I could say, “Could I please finish my sentence?” or “I wasn’t done yet.” Or, I could spend less time with Tony. Or. . .?
In addition to journaling, some people find it helpful to deal with anger by:
- Punching a pillow
- Talking to a trusted friend
- Going to the gym to workout
- Taking a long walk or bike ride, or
- Finding stress-relieving activities.
Most importantly, it’s essential to turn to God’s Word. When you feel anger or revenge—or any other emotion—reading God’s truth will show you what to do. God will give you the strength to do what is right instead of what you feel. And bring peace and healing.
“‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”