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I’ve always been amazed at the lengths to which people will go to hold on to their anger instead of releasing it, since the benefits of releasing our anger far outweigh any perceived “right” or “benefit” to keeping it locked up inside. But how can we begin the process of releasing our anger, leading to a more free and peaceful life?
Step 1 — Admit Your Anger to God
A woman once said to me, “I’ve been angry all my life. I never saw it as something I needed to confess, but one day I realized my anger was something God could heal. I knew the first step toward receiving any healing was to admit there was a problem. So I went to God and said, ‘I admit I’m angry. I’m not entirely sure why I’m angry, but I know I am. Please help me.”
Soon after this woman prayed, the Lord brought to her remembrance three separate and distinct painful experiences from her childhood. As she recalled each of them, she felt intense anger rising within her. She prayed: “Lord, help me release to You all the negative feelings and pain I have right now. Please cleanse my heart and mind of this memory so that I’ll never have a strong reaction to this horrible experience again.”
She mentioned that each time she prayed, she immediately burst into tears. She wept until she was sure there were no tears left. She felt a strong release, as if something deep within her was being dislodged and swept away with the flow of her tears. “The sense of release was tremendous; and in the aftermath, I felt so relieved,” she said.
“I asked the Lord to fill me with His peace and remind me of a happy memory to replace the negative one. I chose to recall the joyful experience in vivid detail, even to the point of laughter. As I did this, I felt the love of the Lord pouring into me. I shared my pain with God and allowed Him to cleanse me, renewing areas of my soul with His love and joy.”
I asked her, “Were you ever angry after that?”
“Yes,” she replied, “but not to the same degree of intensity. And it didn’t come from a place as deep in my soul. Any anger I felt after that was about other situations or circumstances. It was much more in the moment and didn’t involve people or experiences in my distant past.”
Then this woman made an amazing statement: “It was as if my anger had become a habit. I responded in anger because I didn’t know how else to react. I talked to a friend about this, and she gave me suggestions about how to respond to negative situations and problems without anger. Over time, I’ve felt less and less angry. It’s been 18 years since that spiritual healing, and it really takes something major for me to feel anger now.”
I believe it’s true for many people that an angry response has become habitual. If this is the case for you, I recommend you talk to God. Tell Him, “Father, I confess that I don’t know how to respond to emotional pain or rejection apart from anger. Show me a new way of handling life’s difficult situations. Lead me to the right information and help me to make the changes I need to make. I trust You to help me break this habit of anger once and for all.”