Living with Anger
A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
rescue them, and you will have to do it again.
I wasn’t used to living with an angry husband. After Dave became a Christian, I saw him lose his temper only once. Even when he first got sick, Dave kept his anger under control. But when the pain and frustration really began to increase, Dave didn’t know how to deal with it. That is when his emotional pain came out in expressions of anger.
Being the type of person I was, I hated anger. It scared me. I didn’t like to see anyone angry so I would do my best to avoid making anyone angry. During Dave’s battle with cancer, he became easily irritated. I dealt with Dave’s anger by trying to make everything perfect around him. The kids and I walked on eggshells, trying not to do anything that would irritate him and set him off.
I also tried to cover up for Dave’s anger because I didn’t want people to see that side of him. So I would step between him and other people – attempting to stop the anger and confrontation – but then I would be the recipient of the anger he felt toward the other person.
I loved Dave and I could see how much he was suffering. I could see that even when he was angry he felt miserable. And after each rage tirade, he felt terrible because he knew he not only had hurt us but he knew he had sinned against his Heavenly Father. So I felt sorry for him.
You may ask how could I feel sorry for him? Well, I knew Dave’s heart and I understood that a person who is suffering from cancer has a lot to be angry about. There is a great deal of frustration, hurt and fear. I understood the frustration he felt for not being able to do the things he used to be able to do. I could see the intensity of the pain that he dealt with on a daily basis. And I understood that he was afraid of the unknown.
But I needed to do more than feel sorry for Dave. God showed me the next step I needed to take with Dave by leading me to Proverbs 19:19. When I came upon that verse I realized that because I felt sorry for Dave I never wanted him to pay the penalty for it. But the problem was, his anger was out of control. He needed to pay the penalty so that he would be motivated to bring his anger under control and learn to vent his pain in a better way than through his outbursts of anger.
As hard as it was, I needed to learn to draw boundaries to protect myself and our children from his outbursts. I was not responsible for him not to sin in his anger– he was. My only responsibility was to love him even it meant exhibiting a “tough love” for him.
So I stopped stepping in-between his battles and I also stopped covering for his anger. And whenever he would go into one of his rage tirades I would walk out of the room and not give an audience to his temper tantrum.
It is amazing to me how allowing Dave to pay the penalty for his actions and forcing Dave to take responsibility for his anger and sin before God, dissipated his anger. I stepped out of the way and let he and the Holy Spirit duke it out! Thank you Father that your Holy Spirit always won!
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment
for every careless word they have spoken.
On the journey with you,