I’m sure y’all are wondering what I’m referring to by ‘code red’, well it’s something called commonly known as “anger” (probably not what you were expecting huh!?). You might have seen that term in movies and books, when there’s a crisis, an attack anything that needs to addressed immediately. Well, anger is also an issue that cannot be ignored. If you have it, you cannot afford to ignore because it causes one to lose control.
Anger is a normal emotion we all experience at times. But when it gets out of control, it can cause problems in our relationships and in the overall quality of our lives.
This is not a small issue as some of you may think, because even myself sometimes I struggle with this anger issue. I often find myself losing my temper when things don’t go my way, when my expectations are not met, when bad things just keep happening to me for reasons I fail to understand, when i am belittled or face rejection and indifference, when my phone just suddenly decides to work against me and just switches itself off, when the bandwidth is not going fast enough, when i have a group work at school but nobody shows up for the work and I have to do it on my own for everyone, and so many other instances. I have realized that anger is like a deep pit, once you fall in it, it’s free falling with no end!! It causes one to lose control, really lose control over you emotions, actions, words, thoughts; just about everything!
Anger seems to be everywhere; you see it in parking lots, on the road, in supermarkets, in schools, homes, even in church.
Take this for example:
You’re stuck in traffic, making you late to work for the third time in a week. Walking in the door, you pass by a co-worker you cannot stand, who offers you a fake smile and a “you’re late” comment. You keep walking, but the anger that is simmering below the surface begins to move to the top. Upon reaching your desk, you notice a stack of work waiting that your boss wants done “ASAP.” You think about having a cup of coffee, then notice someone took the last drop and didn’t bother refilling the pot. About now, it feels like the top of your head may come off. You are truly cranky, and it’s not even 9 A.M.
Imagine what will happen when such a person gets home from work!!
As if that’s not enough almost every day a new twist on anger hits the newsstands. A high-school baseball coach breaks an umpire’s jaw over a disputed call. Two shoppers exchange blows over who deserves the first spot in a checkout lane that just opened. In California, an angry driver yanks a pet dog out of the vehicle that bumped his car and throws the animal into the oncoming traffic. The dog dies, and the man is sentenced to three years in jail. A 15-year-old boy gets fed up with being put down by his classmates and opens fire on them in his suburban San Diego high school.
These are just a drops in an ocean. Many of road accidents happen because of anger. Many marriages split because of anger. Relationships are breaking because of anger.
If you offend someone, you gotta brace yourself for an angry outburst, I remember I was walking in the streets one day going home, and I stepped on a guy, immediately I turned to him and said I’m sorry but it was as if my excuse fell on deaf ears, the guy started shouting on me, you’d think I had injured him for life. So it didn’t matter I said sorry or that it was unintentional, the first reaction was anger. I’m not saying everyone is like that, and I know there are people who are generally calm and collected but each one of us has had a brush with anger at some point.
According to Neil T. Anderson, in his book called: “Getting anger under control”, he says that sometimes we can’t help ourselves; He says and I quote:” We don’t have direct volitional control of the functioning of our glands. In the same way, we don’t have direct volitional control of our emotions, including the feelings of anger. We cannot will ourselves to like people we have an emotional hatred for. We can choose to do the loving thing for them even though we don’t like them; but we cannot simply tell ourselves to stop being angry, because we cannot directly manage our emotions that way. When we acknowledge that we are angry, however, we do have control over how we are going to express it. We can keep our behavior within limits; because that is something we have volitional control over. And we do have control of what we will think and believe, and that is what controls what we do and how we feel.” He uses a computer analogy to explain this anger phenomenon like this: our brain is the hardware, our minds is the software and we all know both have to work together; neither is any good without the other. The way it works for an angry person is like this, what is causing such an angry reaction is the brain (hardware), but it is the mind (software) and the way it has been programmed. Neither do the circumstances of life or other people and events that make us angry, it is our perception of those people and events and how we interpret them that determine whether we will lose our temper or not. And that is a function of our mind and how it’s been programmed.
Example: Suppose you are busy shopping one day, when another person suddenly knocks you down and falls on top of you. You have no idea why the person has done that. If your initial thought is that the person is careless or rude, you will likely get angry. Your nervous system will respond immediately, enabling your body to react in a flight-or-fight response. If your external senses are telling you that the person is a thief who is armed, your adrenaline rush will help equip you to flee or protect yourself. If your external senses pick up that it was just some kids playing without supervision, you will be inclined to push them off you, dust yourself off, and reprimand them for their carelessness. Whatever the case, your anger is a natural response to how your mind interprets the data that is being picked up by your five senses.
Suppose your initial thought is directed toward the other person and not yourself. You may be wondering what has happened to this person who has fallen and is now lying on top of you. You may initially be angry, or at least startled, until your external senses give you some important new data. Now you realize this person is in trouble, and your anger quickly turns to sympathy, and that causes you to cry out for help. Then upon further examination, you realize that the person is simply drunk and has passed out. Now you are angry, and you push the person off with a strength you never knew you had. So how you feel is dependent upon the data you receive and how your mind interprets that data.
Can you see that!! So for some of us who have an issue with anger, then it is a programming problem, we gotta program ourselves the right way. But how do we do that? We gotta change our belief system because how our minds have been programmed is revealed by our belief system, which reflects our values and attitudes about life. In other words, what we believe does affect how we respond to the circumstances of life. If our identity and security are centered in our eternal relationship with God, then the things of life that are temporal have less of an impact on us. As we are conformed to the image of God, we will become a little more like Jesus.
Example: Suppose two partners in a business are confronted with a setback. They have just lost a contract they thought would bring them to a new level of prosperity. One partner, a nonbeliever, sees this as a financial crisis. He had believed that this new contract would make him successful. Many of his personal goals were going to be realized, but now his dreams are dashed. He responds in anger to all who try to console him and calls his lawyer to see if he can sue the company who broke the contract.
The other partner is a Christian who deeply believes that real success lies in becoming the person God created him to be. He believes that God will supply all his needs. Therefore, this loss has very little impact on him. He experiences some disappointment, but he doesn’t get angry because he sees this temporary reversal as an opportunity to trust in God. One of these two partners is stressed out and angry, while the other partner is experiencing very little stress and anger. Can faith in God have that kind of an effect on us? Clearly so, because in our example the difference is in the two partners’ belief systems, not in their physical capacity. From the wisdom literature we read, “As he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7). How we behave flows from the reservoir of what we believe.
In short, how we react is as a result of how our minds are programmed, and the programming is as a result of what we believe; so we have to examine our belief for it our belief that sets the course of how our minds will interpret the circumstances that we face and thus determining the reaction we will have.
Your belief system cannot be that you are alone on this earth, that you are a failure, that nobody loves you, that you have to everything by yourself, that nobody understands you because it is such beliefs that will lead you to anger.
Some of you may feel that you can’t control your anger and reactions, but let me tell you something you can. If you believe it, really believe it, you can overcome your anger. I know a particular quote that says:” If you believe you can, you are right and if you believe you can’t, you are also right”
Take the belief that we find in Philippians 4:13: “I Can Do All Things through Christ Who Strengthens Me”.
Can you see that; the bible tells you and I, that we can do all things, not some things but all things through the strength of Jesus.
Here are a few questions one can ask themselves that may indicate the presence of anger; please let us examine ourselves because anger affects not only us but everyone and everything around us.
- Do you feel sometimes like hitting someone for one reason or the other?
- Do you feel an urge to retaliate when someone has insulted you or harmed you?
- Do you hate a person who has dealt with you unfairly? Or stolen from you?
- At night while lying in bed, do you think about people who have angered you? Who have hurt you? Could be a co-worker, a supervisor, husband/wife, parent or sibling; could be anyone.
- Do you willfully ignore a person? By pretending to be busy, or that you didn’t see them?
- Do you hung up a phone in the middle of a conversation?
- Do you ever walk out of a meeting or leave the house in protest?
- Do you interrupt others in the middle of a sentence? Either to justify yourself or to make a point?
- Do you sometimes feel like shouting at someone? You may not even know the person or that person may not have done you any harm.
- Do others frequently upset you?
- When you drive or travel, do you find yourself yelling at other people on the road?
- Do you throw things or kick things when you are angry? Your computer, phone, or any other thing in your path?
- Are calm in public but ‘different’ at home?
- Do you have good relationship with yourself, God and your neighbor?
- When things don’t go according to your expectations, or you face a difficult situation or you receive bad news, how do you respond? Do you react or act?
Words of Encouragement: Is it truly possible to be free from controlling anger? The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” Will it be a painless process? Probably not. Is it worth it? Absolutely, though you are going to have to come to that conclusion yourself.
Will you join me in this prayer?
Dear heavenly Father, You are a holy God, and You call me to be holy, set apart for Your use. Like You, I have the capacity for anger. But unlike You, I also have the capacity for using that anger wrongly. You have called me to freedom, but have told me not to use my freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Rather I am to serve others in love. Please open my eyes to understand the source of my anger and the bitterness of my soul. Free me from my past, that it may no longer have any hold over me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I may live a righteous life of patience, gentleness, and self-control. I thank You that You are indeed gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness and truth. In the name of the gentle and humble Jesus I pray, amen.
The Best Is Always Yet To Come