Anger Unmasked

by Judith MacNutt
2019 Vol. 04

Anger appears to be the least understood emotion, but also the most potentially damaging for people and relationships. Do you have childhood memories of punishment due to a tantrum? A child can move through an angry outburst in a matter of minutes, and then move on to the next thing, yet many parents respond to a child’s anger by attempting to control or suppress it rather than give instruction. When our children are young, an opportunity is presented to teach and train them how to understand and express emotions in appropriate ways.

Suppressed anger may create unnecessary guilt and shame, which results in a belief that the child himself or herself is not acceptable. A “false self” may evolve as they try to please their parents. The “true self” is not allowed to fully develop. Suppressed anger tends to go underground where it may eventually erupt in rage or violence.

The God-given purpose of anger is to identify and correct injustices. Anger gives us energy to defend ourselves and the ones we love. It motivates and empowers us to work for change. Jesus, who possessed all power and authority, was our model in the healthy expression of anger. Emotions are God-given and are meant to be expressed in healthy and life-giving ways. Very few of us are taught positive ways to understand, process and express anger, so by the time we reach adulthood, we may have destructive patterns of behavior.

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were filled with shame and they knew they were naked. They hid behind the bushes as God asked, Who told you that you were naked? Sin exposes us and makes us feel vulnerable. Even after Adam and Eve strayed from God, God returned in the “cool of the evening” to walk with and be with them. He chose to search them out to bring them back into fellowship. His heart always moves towards us, even when we sin.

The Fall ushered in not only disease and sickness, but it caused our emotions to be out of balance, impaired, and sometimes out of control. Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, are the first example we have in scripture of violent behavior stemming from anger. Before Cain killed his brother, the Lord spoke to him asking, Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it. (Genesis 4:6,7) The Lord gave Cain purposeful instruction regarding anger.

Our emotions can only be trusted when they are brought under the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Then and only then will they guide us into appropriate relational behavior. We tend to express emotions very much like our parents did. Children who grow up in a violent home may also express violence. Because we tend to emulate our role models, destructive patterns of behavior often get passed down generation to generation. One common example is the behavior of teasing. This behavior is not usually funny to the recipient. It identifies a weakness and hones in on it. Name-calling, sarcasm and hitting can damage a child’s spirit. These are behaviors learned and reproduced in families.

Unhealthy emotional expression often comes from deep emotional wounds. When a child experiences a severe trauma and does not receive help to process the experience, he or she can become emotionally stuck in that place. Negative emotions can be buried alive at the place of the trauma and remain active within us. We might not even be aware that repressed emotions are doing tremendous damage, not only in our emotional life, but also to our physical bodies.

Another cause of unhealthy emotions is chemical imbalances or mood disorders. If this is the scenario, do not hesitate to get professional help for yourself or another. Mental illness may cause a person to reach their emotional limit and act out in destructive ways, including hurt to themselves.

Occasionally, there can be a demonic component to uncontrolled anger. A spirit of anger may attach to a wound, area of sin, or undeserved trauma. I say “undeserved” to teach that not all anger is the fault of the person bearing the anger. There is a possible need in this case for spiritual cleansing and deliverance.

Our sinful nature and broken emotions are the result of the Fall. However, if the Holy Spirit of God is living in you, you are operating out of a new nature. Many of us go through difficulty in relationships because we are not aware of the need to pray for the Fruits of the Spirit. Our emotions can be out of control without asking the Holy Spirit for His fruits of self-control, patience, or the kind of love that does not give up. In this process (and I emphasize that it is a process!), people are able to identify and accept their emotional responses. Be honest about how you feel and why. You may have to admit you walked yourself right into your current situation. When you bring your emotions to God, He can start the transformation process.

When angry or upset, practice self-control and create a plan. Without a plan of action, you might stew in anger. Sit down with someone and ask, “What should I do about this?” Your plan for resolution may include forgiving yourself or asking forgiveness of others, as anger almost always hurts those who are around. The ability to forgive is one sign of a spiritually mature person.

At Christian Healing Ministries, the prayer model we teach is Listen, Love and Pray. Even in the area of emotions, we do not try to counsel anyone. Our ministry is designed to help people receive healing and spiritual transformation. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (Romans 8:9, NLT)

Judith MacNutt Judith MacNutt is a licensed psychotherapist, author, teacher, conference speaker, co–founder and president of CHM. 2019 Vol. 04