Friday, 25 November 2011

Who Does My Anger Hurt?

People, who explode in anger, wallow in self-pity and/or seethe in resentment hurt themselves. Unresolved anger is poisonous. It can manifest itself as frustration, anxiety, or a critical spirit. It affects our physical well being and can result in deadly ailments.

Relationships are damaged and according to the Book of Proverbs, anger is contagious, especially to children (Prov. 22:24-25). Intimacy is all but lost.

Anger erects a barrier between us and God (Matt.5:21-24). Anger hinders His work and limits his blessing.

Anger is a natural emotion given to us by God. When we become angry at the things that make God angry He is pleased. Jesus was angered by the money-changers and merchants in the Temple and He took a whip to them. Jesus was indignant at the religious leaders of the day and He rebuked them for leading people astray with their hypocritical legalism. Unfortunately I must admit my anger is not usually directed at something that displeases God, it’s something that displeases me.

Not only is God fully aware of the circumstances in which we find ourselves He either allows them or causes them to come about. So when we become angry with regard to our circumstances, our anger is directly or indirectly aimed at God. This demonstrates a lack of faith on our part since Romans 8:28 tells us that God is working in all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

We must confess our feelings to God. He already knows our ugly thoughts and emotions and He is patiently waiting for us to ask Him to work in our hearts, to help us respond to our situation in a way that glorifies Him. We must identify the source of our anger. More often than not, if we dig deep enough, we will realize that we are angry because things are not going our way; our desires and expectations have been thwarted. We should deal with our anger quickly. The Book of Ephesians (4:26-27) tells us not to let the sun go down on our anger. We must not sin in our anger, i.e. hold on to it or lash out with it. Finally we must forgive the offender, as God has forgiven us.

Many of us live in denial. I venture to say the vast majority of people do not consider themselves as angry people. In a culture where the divorce rate is running 50% and an additional 25-35% of couples are unhappy, I find it hard to believe that there aren’t more people who are angry. The sooner we call it what it is and seek the Lord’s help in dealing with it the sooner we can experience the healing that can only come about when we allow the Lord to do elective heart surgery.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Cycle Continues

Mort Fertel
As many of you know I quote Mort Fertel regularly because his advice is usually spot on except for the fact that it is missing a Christian filter. In one of his recent blogs (www.themarriagecounselingblog.com) he addresses the fact that often there are patterns to our arguments. He goes on to say in part:

Many couples report that most of their arguments are about the same things over and over. These sorts of arguments often don’t ever get resolved and the same subject keeps coming up. It is important to take a look at your arguments to see what patterns you notice.

Emerson Eggrich's
Crazy Cycle
Where do most of your arguments happen? (when the bread winner comes home from work, etc.) …Also look at the timing of your arguments. When do most of your arguments occur? (Getting the family ready to go to church, etc.).

What do most of your arguments seem to be about? Perhaps you argue the most about the way your spouse treats you. Or maybe you argue about money or the kids. Do most of your disagreements center around your behaviors or your spouse’s behaviors? How do these arguments usually start?

Identifying patterns to your conflict can help you learn how to address unresolved issues. Perhaps you discover that you tend to argue most when you are feeling stressed about other things. It may help you to recognize the importance of finding healthy stress management techniques so that you don’t take it out on your spouse.

Once you identify patterns to your conflict, discuss strategies to help prevent unnecessary conflict. All conflict shouldn’t be avoided. However, the arguments that are ongoing and never seem to get resolved can be counter-productive to a healthy relationship.”
Mort’s suggestions could provide some important insight. However regardless of when you argue most, where the arguments most frequently occur and what you most often continue to argue about the real problem is a heart issue. James 4:1-2 basically tells us we argue because we don’t get our own way. That is what you need to uncover. Ask yourself why you feel as strongly as you do about a particular situation or topic. IF you are able to trace the derivation from whence your opinion flows it may be the beginning of a healing process. Obviously there wouldn’t be an argument if your spouse didn’t also have something driving their adversarial opinion. By uncovering both you might be better able to really understand the issue and arrive at a solution that would satisfy both.

Monday, 21 November 2011

True Love?

Do you have true love? Certainly there are ways of expressing love, which may or may not be included in Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, i.e. gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, touch, and acts of service.

A booklet entitled Married for Life attempts to answer this question. One reasonable indicator is whether or not your love has been able to withstand the test of time. Has it endured hardship, boredom, and pain? Has it weathered life’s busyness? Has it withstood the pressures of job, family, and home, the stresses of midlife and old age?

Have you have gotten to the point where you have settled for a d├ętente, i.e. living together but leading separate lives? If so, that would not count. True love is in part determined by your commitment to each other, by the way you live out your lives together day by day, expressing your love in every possible way through respecting each other, encouraging each other, and serving each other minute by minute, hour by hour.

True love must be other centered. You see the real problem in most marriages that are under siege is self-centeredness. The surface issues may be money, in-laws, the distribution of household chores, the kids and/or sex. Underneath those issues lurks the “kingdom of me”. When my needs, my expectations, and my desires, determine my behavior toward my spouse the only one I truly love is me.

A paraphrase taken from The Message says:

Let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. 1John 3:18-19
For those of you who are just starting out you can be insure that your marriage will withstand the test of time if you follow the principle found in 1Corinthians 10:31, i.e. “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” If your guiding principle is to glorify God, all else will follow.