I'm on vacation with my family this week. Enjoy this series from the archives. Most of the time, we consider anger to be a negative emotion. Out-of-control anger can lead to all kinds of terrible things — physical retaliation, hurtful words, reckless actions. Yet, controlled anger can be an impetus for change. God and Jesus get angry, so the emotion can’t be all bad. There has to be a useful purpose for it.
I’ve watched both my daughters get angry when they’re playing their respective sports. And I’ve watched them use that anger to play harder. When my oldest daughter gets beat in soccer and the other team scores, it makes her mad. That makes her go out on the next play more determined not to get beat. In that way, her anger is a useful tool.
Many organizations that help others were founded out of a profound anger at the injustice in the world. Whether it’s a parent who’s child was murdered that channeled their anger into starting a foundation that provides free self-defense classes for women or a person who has been to India and was angered by the lack of clean water available and took the initiative to begin providing clean water, anger has it’s purpose.
You see, when we get angry about the things that make God angry, then we can use that anger to create something good. Jesus used his anger to drive the money lenders out of the temple. God used His anger to defeat the enemies of the Israelites. We can use our anger for good as well.
Learn to channel your anger into something constructive. When you’re angry about something, ask yourself the question “What can I do about it?” If the answer is nothing, then decide whether what you’re angry about is deserving of your anger. If the answer is something, decide what that something is and get moving.
Teach your kids to channel their anger into something constructive as well. When your kids get angry, use that energy to constructively solve whatever problem they are having. Talk with your kids about how they can use the energy their anger creates to make a difference. Let your kids take the lead in figuring out how to use their anger for good. Maybe it’s standing up to a bully. Maybe it’s making a new friend. Maybe it’s helping to feed the hungry. Whatever it is, help your kids learn to take their anger and use it in a way that’s pleasing to God.
Anger doesn’t have to always cause harm. Our anger can be the thing that spurs us to change the world — even if it is just in our own back yard. You don’t have to start a big organization, either. If your kids’ disobedience makes you angry, create a plan to teach your kids first-time obedience. If your child is angry about the way the mean girls in class treat her, channel that anger into an understanding of bullying and how to stand up to a bully.
Take control of your anger and use it to foster change today.
If you missed the rest of the Seeing Red: Learning to Control Your Anger series, you can find the first post here.