In A Pickle?
Be honest now. When was the last time you got angry and broke something? Maybe you threw your brush at the mirror, punched a hole in the wall, slammed a door, or in my case broke a pickle jar.
There’s a certain fulfillment that comes with flying off the handle. Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush we feel as we turn into active volcanoes, our faces become red, and we release an ash cloud of anger. Although anger may provide a few brief moments of release, it is a destructive and unhealthy reaction that empowers our sin nature and thwarts God's good work in our lives.
My pickle of an experience happened on a hot day in August. We were moving. My husband was on the road taking a truck load of stuff to our new home. I stayed behind to clean out the refrigerator. Due to the heat and driving distance to our new residence, I decided to throw out the condiments. Thousand Island dressing was on my nix list.
Refrigerator cleaning was going well until I tried lifting the plastic trash bag. It was heavy and overly stuffed. As I raised the trash bag to carry it to the garage, the bottom fell out! Ketchup, mustard, and salad dressing fell to the tiled floor and exploded all over me. The only thing that didn’t break was the pickle jar.
And what did I do about that? In anger, I broke it too. Did breaking the pickle jar make me feel better? Momentarily it did. I had the satisfaction of finishing the job. But the recompense I believed I was justified to quickly vanished when I realized the consequences of my actions. My husband had to pressure wash the floor to clean up the mess and showing our house on the market was delayed a week due to the smell of garlic and vinegar dill pickles.
Anger is a normal emotion that we all feel, but the Bible speaks directly to about it.
Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27, NKJV)
Easy Does It
We’ve all seen classic western movies, where a cowboy rides on the set and says, “Whoa,” to his trusty horse. Do cowboys know a secret we don’t? Maybe so. They’re able to slow a strong animal, which weighs an average of a thousand pounds, from a full gallop to a gentle trot. The cowboy has trained his horse to learn meekness or how to control its strength.
Several years ago, I attended a prophetic meeting. The godly woman leading the service had a word of encouragement for me. She said, “You’re like a young, wild horse running in the fields. The Lord is going to take you, put a bit in your mouth, and lead you to the water.”
You should’ve seen the look on my face. I didn’t know if she had complimented or slammed me. In my teen years and twenties, I’d been so fiery determined to run my way that I needed God’s help to harness my passion. I needed the assistance of God's spirit to refocus my attention on His will so I could experience His provision and blessing.
After studying the Bible, I found the prophetess was right on.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. (Psalm 32:8-10, NIV)
Our decisions affect our destiny. Your response is how you answer or reply back. It's the action you take; and how quickly you take action. For this reason the cowboy’s style of “easy does it” is a good response.
Lashing out and reacting in a fury of emotion rather than responding by faith creates a risky boomerang. It knocks down the person we’re sending negativity to, then it comes back on us, and knocks us off our feet too. Responding in anger creates a backlash of pain, which injures everyone involved.
I’ve learned that when I’m feeling angry, I need to exercise extra self-control. If you wait until the last minute, that’s not easy to do. Each one of us has different symptoms of anger that are warning signs. If these warning signs are left unchecked anger can lead to hostility and violent behavior. According to WebMD, "Teens who say they often feel angry and hostile also more often feel anxious, stressed, sad, and fatigued. They have more problems with alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, and eating disorders than teens who do not have high levels of anger."
Healthwise says that "Violence causes more injury and death in children, teenagers, and young adults than infectious disease, cancer, or birth defects. Murder, suicide, and violent injury are the leading causes of death in children. Violence with guns is one of the leading causes of death of children and teenagers in the United States."
If you experience anger that you have trouble controlling, talk to a parent or a youth counselor. They will take steps to get you help. You can be delivered from the the spirit of rage today. Relief from the pain you're feeling is nearby as you say the powerful name of "Jesus".
When I start to sense the emotions of frustration, I take three deep breaths and pray, “God help me. Show me your will in this situation.” One of the fruits of the spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:22). Prayer works for me. God is not a respecter of persons. I know it’ll work for you too.
What’s Faith Got to Do with It?
Have you made trusting in the Lord and practicing His Word your first response in a storm or is faith a second hand emotion?
Proverbs says, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (18:10, NIV). Anytime you feel wounded, betrayed, abandoned, exposed, and rejected, you can run to the Lord for protection. You are not “in this” alone. God is with you and ready to help.
When we make the decision to run to God, He gives us the wisdom to make the right choices. Those good choices shape healthy responses. God brings the balance back to our lives. As we call on Him, He places a balance bar in our hands that keeps us from leaning too far to the left or the right. Psalm 138:7 says, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me” (NIV).
I learned an important lesson about anger and self-control from my broken pickle jar. It taught me that life is going to have spills of all kinds. Some spills are smellier than others. We only make it worse when we react to stress with anger rather than respond to anxiety with the fruit of self-control.
Check this out: Galatians 5:16-25 provides us with an awesome guideline for life by the spirit.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Are you angry about something today? What are some ways that you can turn your anger around?
~ Jackie O.