The Heart of Anger by Laura Moore
Do you sometimes struggle with anger-management issues? Be of good courage: you are not alone in your battles. These oft-appearing power-struggles with littles spring up from a hot bed of defiance and outbursts that leave us parents feeling enraged and self-righteous. Soryda Ring spoke to Kindred on 2/7/14 about “The Heart of Anger” and shared a personal story of how she had a heart-rending glimpse into her toddler’s crushed spirit in the aftermath of her raging outburst. She was convicted and suddenly aware that her anger was not righteous in fact. After attending a conference at her church on “Compassionate Parenting”, Soryda gained a deeper undressing of anger: how to define it, how to dig down to its root, and how to uproot it from its foundation.
On the topic of righteous anger, Soryda began by setting the boundaries for understanding what that really means. It is a “God-given emotion directed toward sin, and it vindicates God.” Picture Jesus’s display of anger in the Temple as He drove out the tax-collectors (Matthew 21:12, 13). Often times, as parents, we experience one or more of the following three types of anger: delayed, misplaced, or manipulative. Delayed anger is kept in to fester and then it manifests itself through explosive outbursts. Misplaced anger occurs when someone is angry because of one thing yet makes something else the recipient or object of her expression of anger. Manipulative anger causes others to respond because of a loud yelling tirade or a punishing silence and withdrawal of love.
Don’t miss the beauty here: while we are parenting our littles, our Heavenly Father is parenting us. We are not alone, and we can learn from Him.
As we examine some of the causes of anger, keep in mind this is not an exhaustive, all-inclusive list. Take some time to reflect and examine what are some causes of anger in your life. Generally speaking, our sinful nature is the core issue of anger. We want what we want, and we want it now. This selfishness is what the Bible calls sin, and it destroys relationships with God and people. Another contributor is our violent world since it nurtures and encourages displays of anger. Other more “innocuous” causes are the overwhelming choices we have and the busyness we experience in our modern, first-world culture.
In Soryda’s message, she shared that as she personally reflected on her most frequent points of anger, there was a common pattern: in the morning (busy trying to go somewhere), in the car, in the evening during dinner preparations, and during the bedtime routines with littles. Suddenly, she was struck by the correlation to Scripture. Deuteronomy 11:19 says to teach your children God’s commandments in the morning, when you are on the road, in the evening, and when you go to bed. There is an invitation to commune with God in those harried moments. Don’t miss the beauty here: while we are parenting our littles, our Heavenly Father is parenting us. We are not alone, and we can learn from Him.
The premise and motivation for Compassionate Parenting is the character and behavior of our Heavenly Father. He longs to be gracious and compassionate toward us (Isaiah 30:18). His love is transformative, protective, and freeing as opposed to our human, distorted forms of love that are often controlling and destructive. We feel ineffective as parents if we can’t change the way our children behave, so we try to force our way. Our Father in Heaven is intimately aware of our vulnerabilities as our Maker, and He seeks to bless and build us up rather than our human tendencies to shame and tear down others. Our Heavenly Parent is perfect—always compassionate, loving, patient with us.
Here are some strategies for managing our anger:
- Dig out the root. It is not just moral or behavioral modification
- Get out of the power struggle. Realize you are fighting for control.
- Learn to control your response. It is a choice between anger or compassion.
- Remember that anger is not a basic emotion; it is a symptom of a deeper hurt.
That brings us to ask: “Why am I so angry?” Soryda introduced the concept of “core hurts” that are the root causes of our anger.
Addressing your core hurt is vital to uprooting anger. Spend some time defining and evaluating each of the core hurts so you are better able to recognize the ones you typically experience.
Lastly, Soryda offered these practical applications for how to regulate anger:
- Practice being aware of your core hurt.
- Know your hot buttons and avoid your triggers.
- Avoid the power struggle—mitigate choices.
- Love the people in your home more than the tasks in your home.
- Surround yourself with God’s Word: prepare your heart for mothering in advance of the demands ahead.
- Clear, consistent discipline: act positively and follow through.
- Remember grace: you too are a sinner in need of God’s amazing, unending grace.
- Model respect: for your spouse, for your kids, for yourself.
- Parent Timeout: you have control over YOUR response, not theirs.
- Avoid the comparison-trap. YOU are uniquely equipped to handle the specific challenges in your family.
It’s hard to be a parent. It’s a 24/7 job that did not supply you with a specific instruction manual. And children are needy. “Parenting is not for the faint of heart.” Take heart: you are not alone. Your God is with you, and “He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it” (Philippians 1:6). His strength at work in you will supply all your needs so that you may experience victory on the battleground of anger.
Listen to Soryda’s message from 2/7/14 on “The Heart of Anger” here.