"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in.” ~The Big Bad Wolf
Oh, the classic fable- The Three Little Pigs. Little pigs who are just trying to live their lives happily and peacefully and the Big Bad Wolf gets in the way. The moral of this story, traditionally, is that hard work pays off and when prepared enterprise defeats evil.
But, is there more that we can learn from this story?
How about from the actions of the Big Bad Wolf?
A creature who is driven by hunger, self-satisfaction, envy, and anger- he is relentless in his pursuit of destroying the three little pigs and will even tear houses down in the process.
Just because he was born a wolf doesn't mean he had to be the bad guy. I wonder if things could have turned out differently for him if he had mastered anger management?
Instead of huffing & puffing when his expectations were not met, he would have been better served by working through his ABCDs of anger.
A- Acknowledge (admit and accept) the anger
The first step is to recognize and acknowledge that you are indeed angry. We tend to think anger is a bad word; we gloss over or diminish it by saying things like “I’m just frustrated” or “I’m a little aggravated.” But, the truth is you are angry, which is a God-given emotion. It’s OK to admit you are angry.
B- Backtrack to the primary emotion
Anger is always a secondary emotion. It’s the warning light that says something isn’t quite right. There is a root cause: injustice, hurt, frustration, insecurity, unmet need or expectation, jealousy, envy, or bitterness. Why are you angry?
C- Consider the cause
D- Determine how best to deal with this emotion
Should you express your feelings directly by communicating via person, phone, or letter? Will your actions make things better or worse?
Should you redirect and release the anger by participating in physically active or emotionally calming activities?
Anger is a choice.
The worst thing you can do is act like the Big Bad Wolf and explode, yell, scream, belittle, and attack. Doing so destroys yourself and your relationship with others. However, it is equally unhealthy to "stuff it" by grinning and bearing it, imploding, withdrawing into yourself in depression and resignation. This behavior destroys you.
BOTH destroy your relationship with God.
So, how can you turn your anger into your friend?
By heeding James 1:19-20-
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
Quick to Hear: Our immediate response in all circumstances should be “receptive listeners” and not “reactionary responders.” We should be asking ourselves, “What is this anger telling me?”
Slow to Speak: Our interim response in all circumstances is “THINK BEFORE WE SPEAK." Asking ourselves, "What must I do to prevent a knee-jerk response?"
The Bible is clear about what happens to those who speak without thinking.
Proverbs 13:3- Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.
Proverbs 29:20- Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for them.
Proverbs 10:19-Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.
Slow to Anger: Our final life-changing response to anger begins by replacing "reaction" with "reflection." See the ABCD method above.
Remember- It isn’t wrong to feel angry- it’s what you do with it that matters.
When anger is your enemy and used foolishly, it destroys and leaves YOU in a pot of boiling water!
Don’t boil- let anger be your friend.
(For more on this topic- see Chip Ingram’s Podcasts- Turning Anger from a Foe to a Friend from his series Overcoming Emotions that Destroy)
Father, thank you for the gift of emotions. Help us to use them wisely in a fashion that brings us closer to others and to you. May we learn how to utilize anger to bring you glory.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
~ Ecclesiastes 7:9