Anger, Endurance for the Journey, Featured

Although you may not always like the presence of your anger,
you can make choices about how you handle it.
The Anger Workbook by Les Carter, PHD, Frank Minirth, M.D.



The Scripture is quite is clear about anger and the consequences of how we choose to respond to it. It is our choice …,


Rash language cuts and maims,
but there is healing in the words of the wise.
PROVERBS 12:18 (THE MESSAGE)


Kind words heal and help;
cutting words wound and maim.
PROVERBS 15:4 (THE MESSAGE)


A gentle response defuses anger,
but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.
PROVERBS 15:1 (THE MESSAGE)


The mouth of a good person is a deep, life-giving well,
but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.
PROVERBS 10:11 (THE MESSAGE)

Fools give full vent to their rage,
but the wise bring calm in the end.
PROVERBS 19:11 (NIV)


Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly,
the prudent quietly shrug off insults.
PROVERBS 12:16 (THE MESSAGE)


Hot tempers start fights;
a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.
PROVERBS 15:18 (THE MESSAGE)


The hotheaded do things they’ll later regret;
PROVERBS 14:17 (THE MESSAGE)


Outrage and outbursts seldom have a good outcome in any situation.
Dr. David Jeremiah

On the journey with you,
Jan & Dave Dravecky

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Anger, Endurance for the Journey, Featured

Go ahead and be angry.
You do well to be angry –
but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.
And don’t stay angry.
Don’t go to bed angry.
Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
EPHESIANS 4:26-27 (THE MESSAGE)


Feeling anger is not a sin but how we react to that feeling is where we can open ourselves up to sin. The above Scripture describes two ways we can sin in response to feeling anger. We can be an oppressor by allowing rage to control us and control others or we can be a suppressor of our anger and allow a bitter root of resentment to grow poisoning our relationship. Dave and I have both responses covered – we are both guilty.


Dave was an oppressor and his anger exploded during his cancer journey. Whenever he would feel anger because of fear, hurt or frustration, he would often explode with uncontrollable rage. He was never physically abusive but he was definitely verbally abusive with his words and tone which would send me inside myself and I would shut down. But I knew he was unable to express his pain by crying (he was taught that boys don’t cry) and I felt sorry for him.


But I was hurt by his words and by stuffing and suppressing that pain/anger I was feeling, a bitter root of resentment developed in my heart towards Dave. And to top it off I built walls around that bitter root so that it continued to grow – it slowly poisoned me from the inside out.


Fortunately for Dave, several years after Dave’s amputation he went for a year of anger counseling when he became aware that his rage was sin and I can honestly testify that Dave has not had a rageful fit for 25 years. But I was not made aware of my suppressed anger until I started walking through my anger issues this past year.


Awareness is the first step to transforming behaviors and the Holy Spirit which lives inside of me, has been revealing to me one of the roots of my adult lifelong battle with depression. Suppressing anger was destroying me from the inside out. I am so grateful to share that I no longer suppress my hurt, fear or frustration and I have experienced the healing Grace of God this past year through my husband, my adult children and the heartfelt counsel of old and new friends that God has blessed me with.


How do you respond when you feel anger? I pray that if you are struggling that you will pray and ask God to direct you to others who can help you with your hurts, fear and frustrations. It is life-giving! Life-changing!


The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense.
PROVERBS 27:9 (NLT)


On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Anger, Endurance for the Journey, Featured

Understand this, my brothers and sisters:
You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak,
and slow to get angry.
JAMES 1:19 (NLT)



Over the past year, I have been working through an Anger Workbook with my close friend, Nancy Beggs. As we have journeyed together through our anger issues and the anger issues of our spouses, God has shown me so much on how suppressing my anger and my passive aggressive ways in response to that anger, have hurt myself and my family.


Feeling anger is not a sin but a red flag warning that I am either feeling hurt, fear or frustration. It is how I respond to that feeling that will determine whether I sin or not. Both suppression and oppression of anger are sinful reactions. I knew expressing rage was wrong but I always thought that by stuffing and swallowing my anger that I was being “Christ-like” by not hurting others. But in reality, I was hurting myself and others with my passive aggressive responses.


God has shown me that I can indeed feel, acknowledge, and express my anger in a Christ-like way when I Pause (realize what I am feeling) Pray (ask Him to help me to understand what was said and whether my feelings are justified) and then allow Him to help me Respond in a loving way. At first, this was very difficult for me because I never wanted to ignite a fight and I always feared the other’s response. But it has been amazing to me how when I choose to Pause, Pray and then Respond how the outcome is so healing in my relationships with others.


I pray that this is helpful to all the suppressors and oppressors (yes it is helpful for them too!) that are reading this. Practice PPR and see the difference it makes in your life and relationships!


Don’t worry about anything,
instead pray about everything.
Tell God what you need,
and thank Him for all He has done.
Then you will experience God’s peace,
which exceeds anything we can understand.
PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7 (NLT)


On the journey with you,
Jan Dravecky

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Anger, Endurance for the Journey, Featured

TORN TO PIECES

You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger,
is the earth to be abandoned for your sake?
JOB 18:4 (NIV) (Bildad – One of Job’s “friends”)



Dr. Gary Oliver gave me a way of dealing with my anger. He introduced me to what he calls “The Anger Curve.” He draws a curved arch and along the ascending line writes, “hurt, frustration, fear.” At the height of the arch goes the word “anger.”


He then explains how many people (including me) don’t register much – if any – emotional connection with their hurt, frustration and fear. They don’t feel anything until they get to the point of anger. Once many guys become angry, they may be unable to stop their heated outbursts.


This tool showed me how to track the origins of my rising anger back to hurt, frustration or fear, and to identify how close I am to the top of the curve. I don’t write out this curve every time I feel anger coming on, but I’ve learned to ask myself, Why am I angry? Is this anger growing out of hurt or frustration or fear?



Go ahead and be angry.
You do well to be angry –
But don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.
And don’t stay angry.
Don’t go to bed angry.
Don’t give the Devil that kind
of foothold in your life.
EPHESIANS 4:26-27 (THE MESSAGE)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Anger, Healing, On the Journey Together, Pain, Words of Endurance

“There will be a time of Reckoning.
Words are powerful;
Take them seriously.
Words can be your salvation.
Words can also be your damnation.”
MATTHEW 12:36-37
(WORDS OF JESUS-THE MESSAGE)



Jan and I are on this journey together in this new season. However my challenges – at least at this point – are quite different from hers.



I never realized the impact of my words. But over the last five years I have begun to recognize more than ever just how powerful my words have been and how I have used them to control others to meet my high expectations. When I look back on my life as a husband and a father, I regretfully now know that my words have had an affect on the people that matter most to me.



Upon further reflection I have seen how I have used my words and my anger to manipulate to get my way. I have seen how my words have been critical and judgmental which has caused much discouragement and pain to the recipients. I’ve seen how my words have destroyed and torn down the ones I love the most when all my heart meant to do was challenge them to do better. But what God desires for me to do is the exact opposite with my words.



So why did I struggle so much with my words towards my loved ones? To be honest I don’t really know how to answer that. I am sure some of you as you read these confessions are probably trying to help me out right now. And I don’t blame you because before I had these revelations I would have been doing the same thing – I would have tried to fix me too!



I do know that my perfectionism and the need to control has been a significant part of my story. As an athlete I had high expectations of myself and I needed to be in control. When I lost control I feared failure. That is how I felt about my family. In the end I guess you could say I’ve been extremely selfish in my life wanting life to go my way. It has been hard to realize that our family life isn’t all about Dave.



These are really hard things for me to share with you because I’m not sure what you will think of me after you read this. But I have discovered there is great freedom in being known for who you truly are – there is freedom in not hiding.



Watch the way you talk.
Let nothing foul or dirty
come out of your mouth.
Say only what helps,
each word a gift.
EPHESIANS 4:29 (THE MESSAGE)



On The Journey With You,
Dave Dravecky

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Anger, Healing, On the Journey Together, Words of Endurance

Go ahead and be angry.
You do well to be angry –
But don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.
Don’t stay angry.
Don’t go to bed angry.
Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
EPHESIANS 4:26-27 (THE MESSAGE)



Oh how I wish I had paid heed to this Scripture. It would have saved me from so much heartache, despair and deep-rooted depression. Instead of dealing with my anger on a daily basis I have stuffed and denied my anger – burying it deep inside my heart. Instead of expressing my anger I silenced my voice for fear of being rejected. And then I built a wall around my heart to protect it.



Anger is a secondary emotion to fear, hurt or frustration. The roots of my anger have been fear and hurt – fear of man and having my heart hurt – hurt by the words and actions of others. Anger is an emotion that is very hard for me to experience. I never am able to communicate the words to respond or express my anger – the only way that I express my anger is through tears.



When I was given the freedom to be me I first had to look deep into my heart to see the wounds that I had experienced and I realized how hurt and angry I have been through the years. But if I wanted to heal I knew I needed to do it … I trusted the Holy Spirit was leading me.



Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong –
then guide me on the road to eternal life.
PSALM 139:23-24 (THE MESSAGE)



On The Journey With You,
Jan Dravecky

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Anger, Depression, Hope, Pain, Treasures in the Darkness, Words of Endurance

Treasure is not something
I expected to find
in the darkness.
All I wanted was to find a way out!
JAN DRAVECKY



When Dave and I first began to experience the injuries and illness that eventually led to the amputation of his left arm, I thought God would miraculously deliver us. I expected us to emerge in a few months as victorious examples of what God could do for those who followed Him. I never imagined our journey through that dark valley of suffering would last for years.



As the weeks stretched into months and then year, I became consumed by our suffering. I tried harder and harder to get back to our “normal” life but I was powerless to change our situation or to understand what God was doing. As I became weaker and more exhausted from trying to fix everything by my own efforts I became increasingly desperate for relief.



I certainly wasn’t looking for any treasures from God. Deep inside I was fighting God and felt completely shut off from Him. When people suggested that God might be doing something wonderful in our lives I got angry. I knew only that I was drowning and I wanted out!



But in spite of my bad attitude – in spite of me doing things my way – in spite of my overwhelming depression – God was still at work within me. There were indeed treasures in the darkness and He would be faithful to give them to me.



About one year after Dave’s comeback I was in the deepest throes of my depression from my perspective everything was very, very black. I couldn’t make myself do anything, go anywhere or see anyone. The three people I had depended upon most for support were Dave and my parents but Dave was undergoing radiation treatments and nothing left to give and both of my parents had died. Dave’s parents were doing all they could to help us but inside I was losing the battle. I felt totally helpless, hopeless and alone.



That is when I discovered the first unexpected treasure God had for me. And I wasn’t even looking for it! In fact, I was ready to give up everything walk away from God. But when I tried to walk away, I couldn’t. Almost to my surprise I realized there was nowhere else I wanted to go. I was just like Peter who when Jesus asked His twelve disciples if they would desert Him and …



Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go?
You have the words of real life, eternal life.
We’ve already committed ourselves,
Confident that you are the Holy One of God.”
JOHN 6:68-69 (THE MESSAGE)



When I realized that I truly believed those words I was thrilled! My faith was real! What a treasure!. Even when I was at the end of my rope and ready to run away I couldn’t do it Because I truly believe that God is the Only Way to eternal life and there is no hope apart from Him. Learning that my faith was real brought me great joy and gave me hope when nothing else could. That treasure was the turning point in my experience of suffering.



Although I had not realized it suffering had tested, refined and strengthened my faith. I discovered as 1 Peter 1:3-7 says that faith is far more valuable gold. That discovery renewed my hope and inspired me to search the Scriptures to learn His promises. The hope those Truths of Scripture brought to me became my greatest treasure in the darkness – my lifeline – in the midst of pain. I was still in the valley of suffering but I had learned there were rich treasures there also.



What a God we have!
And how fortunate we are to have him,
This Father of our Master Jesus!
Because Jesus was raised from the dead,
We’ve been given a brand-new life
and have everything to live for,
including a future in heaven –
and the future starts now!
God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.
The Day is coming when you’ll have it all –
life healed and whole.
I know how great this makes you feel,
even though you have to put up with
every kind of aggravation in the meantime.
Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure;
genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.
When Jesus wraps this all up,
it’s your faith, not your gold,
that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
1 PETER 1:3-7 (THE MESSAGE)



ON THE JOURNEY WITH YOU,
JAN DRAVECKY

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Anger, Cancer, Depression, Fear, Words of Endurance

“… And you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
JOHN 8:32 (NLT)



Janette and Bill needed a fresh start so the chance to move out of state for a new job opportunity looked like a divine gift. But life after the move was complicated. Bill’s new job didn’t turn out to be what he was promised. Janette was still feeling the pain of wounding words from her previous employer, which made it difficult to handle the stress of her new job. Their children were feeling lonely and insecure as they adjusted to new schools and tried to find new friends. Then just when Janette didn’t think she could handle one more challenge – Bill was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer.



So far from the only home and support system they had ever known, they faced cancer surgery, a colostomy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, more surgery and a host of complications and unexpected bills. Janette shifted into ‘survival mode’ and pushed herself to get through each day but the prolonged stress took its toll. She began to experience anxiety attacks – her heart would beat so fast she thought she would die. She was so exhausted she could barely get out of bed in the morning. Fatigue, crying spells, hopelessness, anger, fear and isolation became part of her daily life.



What made things worse was that Janette was dreadfully afraid that she and Bill had done something to cause the difficulties they faced. She had been taught that suffering was almost always caused by personal wrongdoing or a lack of faith. So she believed that she and her husband were somehow responsible for what was happening to their family. Yet she had no idea where they had gone wrong and she couldn’t figure out what horrible sin deserved so much suffering.

No wonder Janette’s perspective on life was shattering. Her emotional health, her views of God and her perspective on suffering were all crumbling under the stress of circumstances and the burden of a perspective that wasn’t true. Although she sensed that she wasn’t seeing things clearly, she was afraid to ask for help. What if her newly made friends at church thought the whole ordeal was due to her personal sin or spiritual weakness too? Where would she find help then?



Fortunately, Janette’s new friends refused to stand by and do nothing. They knew she was hurting and encouraged her to participate in a faith based support group at church. There she began to more closely examine what the Bible taught about suffering.



Then a widowed friend shared about how she struggled with depression following her husband’s death. Her honesty about a personal struggle surprised Janette. Having come from a setting where exposing weakness would result in harsh judgment, her friend’s vulnerability opened Janette’s eyes to the possibility of looking at what was really happening in her own life.



Prompted by another friend, Janette began to list the hardships and losses she had recently endured instead of trying to ignore them. As she did, she realized why she felt overwhelmed, sad and full of anxiety. Who wouldn’t be? The pain she felt wasn’t because of weakness. It was understandable in light of the traumatic losses she had experienced.



Once she faced the truth of those losses, Janette began to grieve. It wasn’t an easy or pleasant process. It was especially heartbreaking for her to realize she no longer thought of God as being wise, loving and caring. But as painful as it was to confront those losses and to uncover the perspective that made them nearly unbearable, Janette is glad she did.



Today as a result of her Bible study and the support of caring friends she has a new perspective. She knows that while some suffering may come as a consequence of our actions of our actions, suffering also comes as part of life. Even more important, she knows that from God’s perspective suffering is an opportunity to draw close to him and she has rediscovered a closer, more personal relationship with her wise and loving God.



As Janette learned we rarely give our perspectives a second thought when life is going well. But when our perspectives shatter and fail us, it is essential to take a close look at what the truth really is so that we can make adjustments in our thinking. Sometimes when our perspective shatters we can finally see the truth clearly and that truth will set us free!



I always try to remind people that as painful as it may be,
truth is always your friend.
No matter how difficult it is to swallow, truth is reality
And that is where ultimate safety, growth and God are.
We need to know the truth.
Sometimes the truth leads us to what is hurting us …
Sometimes it leads us to what we need to change.
At other times it leads us to
what we need to do next in a relationship.
At still other times it leads us to
what our weaknesses or limitations are,
such as what we are not ready to deal with.
But whatever the truth is, it is our friend.
HENRY CLOUD & JOHN TOWNSEND
HOW PEOPLE GROW



On the Journey with You,
Dave and Jan Dravecky

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Anger, Discovering Who I Am, Grace, Guilt, Healing, Hope, Words of Endurance

Humble yourselves before the Lord,
and he will lift you up in honor.
JAMES 4:10



Men do not like to receive. We like to be the giver. We like to earn everything that we receive. Unfortunately – with that stance of pride – that attitude can get in the way of receiving the Father’s love.



Jesus tried to give a true picture of our heavenly Father’s love by telling a story of a father and his two sons (see Luke 14:11-32). Both of the sons – even though so different – had to learn the same lesson – how to humble themselves and receive their father’s freely offered love.



The younger son in Jesus’ story was rebellious. He lived in the lap of luxury growing up. When he came of age he took his inheritance and hit the road. He spent everything his father had given him on the very things that broke his father’s heart.



When he was out of money and his “friends” had abandoned him – he found himself living in a pigsty. When he finally admitted his pitiful situation he decided to humbly go home. He hoped he could come crawling back to his dad and at least get decent meals working as his servant. He rehearsed his speech all the way home – ashamed about his behavior and no doubt nervous about how his father would receive him.



When he was still a long way off his father ran to him and embraced him – an action I am sure surprised Jesus’ listeners. The father hugged his son and kissed him and wouldn’t even let him finish his prepared speech. Instead, he told his servants to prepare for a celebration! He put a robe on his son’s shoulders – placed the family signet ring on his hand and fully reinstated him to his place in the home. All the young man had to do was receive the love that his father so freely offered.



The older brother had a different problem – he was performance-oriented. He had spent his whole life trying to earn his father’s love. That is why he grew baffled, jealous and angry at his father’s surprising response to his younger brother.



“But Dad,” he objected, “I stayed here – worked the land and brought in the crops. I have served you and performed for you my whole life – but you never gave me a party like this!”



His father tried to explain that all either of his sons had to do was receive what had always been there for them. The older son missed the father’s love because he was too busy ticking off on his checklist the things he thought he had to do to earn it. When he saw his father freely giving his love to his rebellious brother he became confused.



We can be like either of these sons. We may stay away from the heavenly Father because we are ashamed of how we have disappointed him. We may feel that we have broken every commandment God ever etched in stone. Or we may keep our distance – missing it completely – because we are too busy “doing” – trying to earn His love. Both of the brothers in Jesus’ story had to humble themselves if there were to receive the father’s love … and so must we.



God wants all men – those who perform well – those who may not – to know that His love is a gift – it is free.



God saved you by his grace when you believed.
And you can’t take credit for this;
it is a gift from God.
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done,
so none of us can boast about it.
EPHESIANS 2:8-9 (NLT)



There is nothing we can do to earn it and there is nothing we can do that will disappoint our Father in heaven so much that He will withhold it. God’s love is there for the taking to all who will receive it. But it must be as freely received as it so freely offered. That is the only way. And I am so glad it is! Remember …



… indeed, nothing in all creation
will ever be able to separate us from the love of God
that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
ROMANS 8:39 (NLT)



On the journey with you,
Dave Dravecky

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Anger, Endurance for the Journey, Grief, Lighten Your Load, Perspectives, Trust, Words of Endurance

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering,
as though something strange were happening to you.
1 PETER 4:12



No one wants to suffer – no one enjoys suffering – it is even worse when we are taken by surprise – blindsided by the painful trial – there is no perfect time to fit suffering into your schedule.



I found that whenever I encountered a trial or affliction, I not only would experience the pain of the affliction but I would then experience shock (I absolutely hate surprises), anger (I was angry that I even had to go through this) and then resistance to the affliction.



Then one day, in the midst of our darkest valley, a friend gave me the book, Let Go by Fenelon and I read his following words:



“A cross which comes from God ought to be welcomed without any concern for self. And when you accept your cross this way, even though it is painful, you will find that you can bear it in peace. But when you receive your cross unwillingly, you will find it to be doubly severe. The resistance within is harder to bear than the cross itself! But if you recognize the hand of God, and make no opposition to His Will, you will have peace in the midst of affliction. Happy indeed are they who can bear their sufferings with this simple peace and perfect submission to the will of God! Nothing so shortens and soothes suffering as this spirit of non-resistance.”
FRANCOIS FENELON



WOW! It was another AHA moment for me. Suddenly, I realized that not only did I carry the pain of our affliction – something that I did not choose nor could I change – but I also compounded and intensified my pain with my anger and resistance – something I chose to feel and I could change. I was choosing to carry double and triple pain when I only needed to carry the single pain of the affliction, which provided enough pain by itself.



When I finally accepted the affliction, trusted and submitted to the will of God – knowing that nothing happens to me that first does not pass through His Hands – my anger and resistance dissipated. This shift in perspective and position lightened the extra load I was carrying – I actually experienced peace in the midst of the affliction.



“Choices. Choices make the difference. Two people are in the same accident and severely wounded. They did not choose to be in the accident. It happened to them. But one of them chose to live the experience in bitterness, the other in gratitude. These choices radically influenced their lives and the lives of their families and friends. We have very little control over what happens in our lives, but we have a lot of control over how we integrate and remember what happens. It is precisely these spiritual choices that determine whether we live our lives with dignity.”
HENRI NOUWEN



We always have a Spiritual choice. Whenever we face affliction and pain, while we may initially respond with our flesh in anger and resistance, we can shed the weight of our negative emotions by turning our eyes upon Jesus – trusting Him – a Spiritual Choice. As we consider Him who endured unbelievable suffering, we, too, can endure the journey through suffering.



Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
HEBREWS 12:2-3

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