And” don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. Ephesians 4:26 NLT
Every evening before I go to bed, I read a short devotion, write ten things I am thankful for, and then write a quick prayer of thanks before I go to sleep. Last month, I read Everyday Faith by Faithbox on peace, and the month prior, I read one on harmony. My goal in reading them was to determine how to have more peace in life.
You may know that we’re a stepfamily. My husband has a pre-teen daughter, and I have an adult son. As is very common in a blended family, we have a lot of adjusting, conflict, and not getting along. I am the object of anger for both children, and my husband is often caught in the middle.
Most of the time, I am trying to figure out why we aren’t getting along. I’m also trying to figure out how to make adjustments around that point. It’s exhausting. So, when choosing what to focus on for April and May, I wanted more harmony and more peace.
First and foremost, I have to say I have had anger problems for many years. When I first began recovery, I realized that I was angry at the entire world for what had happened to me. I read books to start learning how to control my anger. The first was Zen Mind, Beginner Mind (you can buy HERE), and the second was the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions (you can buy HERE or read for free HERE). I also realized that part of my problem was my lack of being in control. So I picked up a book called Comfortable with Uncertainty (you can buy HERE). These were helpful.
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From these and other books, I learned how to control the effects of my temper. I learned to refrain from yelling, throwing things, and tantrums. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that my anger at the world was because I was judgmental and unforgiving of others. I was also unforgiving of myself. I was bitter and angry at God for putting me in my situation; I blamed him for my abuse.
For many years, I handled my anger. Over the last year, I’ve felt my anger renew. At first I didn’t notice it. Then when I started focusing on peace and harmony, I realized that something was wrong inside of me.
One podcast I listen to, Family Life Blended, suggested that each person, who enters into a step family situation, has lost something. I rolled it around in my head for a while and decided to think about what I had lost. As soon as I put my pen to paper words flowed out of me. I realized that was where I was angry – in my heart.
If you remember, February I looked at my heart posture. This post HERE is even titled “How’s Your Heart?” Even in looking at it for a whole month, I didn’t realize I harbored anger in my heart still. After considering and journaling, and focusing on peace for a month, I finally felt some peace.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV
I also learned that harmony is like an alignment. The word has a couple of definitions (from Meriam Webster). First, it can mean an internal calm. This was what I wanted most. Second, it can mean a pleasing arrangement of parts. I thought it would be nice to have this for our family. Finally, it could refer to an interweaving of separate accounts into a single narrative.
This last one I found most surprising is the definition specifically mentions the four gospels – which I had just finished reading. I always considered the four gospels as separate accounts, written by separate disciples, mostly for the same purpose. I never considered before, that woven together they formed a single narrative. They all pointed the way to peace.
One person picked up where another left off a detail. One person tells what happened from his position and the other tells from his perspective. They tell both the good and the bad; it’s all important. They show the errors and their humanity. They make it accessible.
It’s like a family isn’t it? The disciples and Jesus seem like this big bunch of adoptive brothers. Can you imagine them hanging around a campfire, a table after eating a big meal, or reclining in a living room on the sabbath talking and telling stories? Jesus told them how he came here. He told them stories about God, he told them about scripture, he told them parables that applied to real life, and he told them they were worthy.
They acted like brothers – jostling for importance, outdoing one another, joking, and pushing each other around a bit. But they loved each other too. They hung out all the time and did life together. They were friends and work mates. Eventually, after three years, they belonged together.
A couple weeks ago, I finished reading Romans. The four gospels plus Acts plus Romans results in a clear answer to “Why God?” and “What does it matter?” That’s harmony too, isn’t it? These books working together so clearly to point to the Good Life that we’re exploring this year. Looking for something better, whatever that may be.
I realized that one cannot be in harmony with the world around them, if one is angry at the people and things around them all the time. Harmony results in peace. Neither is achievable with an angry heart.
Here are some things the Bible says about anger:
Proverbs 14:29 NLT People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 NLT Control your temper, for anger labels you a fool.
Proverbs 29:11 NLT Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.
James 1:20 NLT Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
Ephesian 4:31-32 NLT Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Jesus said “But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!” Matthew 5:22 NLT.
From these we can say when we’re angry we do foolish things. We say words that hurt relationships and ourselves. Anger does not produce righteousness. Anger can be sinful, can lead to sin, and fills our hearts so that it gives the devil a foothold. Don’t we already know that what is in our hearts guides our steps, our actions, our words? (Prov. 4:23 NIV)
Isaiah said “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)
Paul said “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.” He also told us we are called to live in peace. (Col. 3:15)
Jesus said this “I have told you all this so you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT) This is one of my favorite verses.
Jesus also said “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT)
These things seem contradictory. Jesus promised us troubles and also says he gives us peace. Paul told us to walk in the peace that comes from Jesus. Isaiah says that when we fix our thoughts on God we will be kept in perfect peace. How is it all possible?
I think that the world is full of chaos, evil, and conflicting desires. People want what we want. Life is hard. These are our troubles. Jesus is our gift, God has given him for us – this is the Good News that is to give us peace. Jesus has victory over the chaos, the evil, and the sin within us. That victory is ours to share because we are called to live in it, as Paul has said. That was Jesus’ gift, that was how he overcame the world.
Here’s what I did, friend. When I wrote down all the things that I lost when I got married, I cried. I felt bitter and resentful. I cried. Then, I pouted. Then I gave it over to God.
I’ve heard thousands of times over the last few years “rely on God’s promises to you.” Well friend, God didn’t promise me what I want. He didn’t promise me money, easy days of luxury, or for things to be easy. He promised the opposite of that – hard times and troubles a plenty. He also promised “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20 NLT) He promised a helper, an advocate, a protector in the Holy Spirit. He promised that he would give me peace.
“True peace is not the absence of trouble, but resting in the sovereignty of God in the midst of it.” (Everyday Faith, ed.5, no.12)
Peace isn’t the absence of hard stuff. Peace isn’t contained in an easy life where I get what I want, when I want it. Peace isn’t even contained in having all my needs met. Peace, is found in Jesus. Peace is found in turning to God when something is hard. Peace is found in giving up the pain and heartache and the struggles instead of holding on to them. Peace is having Jesus in the middle of a hard day.
What do you think friend? Where’ your heart right now? Are you angry about something that’s hard to let go of or difficult to identify? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. I’d love to hear from you.
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