But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Colossians 3:8 NIV
I gripped a branch like a baseball bat and stared at the tree trunk to my right. It was a thin, yet tall, tree growing along my favorite hidden hiking trail.
Before logic talked me out of it, I swung and then swung again. Small pieces of bark fell to the ground and my hands vibrated at the impact.
Striking a tree didn't feel like "me," but then again, I wasn't sure who I was anymore.
Along the path to rediscovering that, I'd been encouraged to identify and name my feelings. I'd finally reached an inner confidence and found a spot to admit my truth.
I felt hurt over my second cancer diagnosis. I hated the isolation caused by my infertility. A church plant experience brought deep sorrow. Grief over my broken family haunted me. My faith was on crutches - how could God be "good" in light of my suffering?
After years of denial, I was finally admitting it: I felt angry.
In recognizing my anger, I also felt God leading me to get it out and process my anger in a healthy way. A sturdy tree along an isolated hiking path became that safe place for me.
After several minutes of swinging, my hands became sore and I dropped the stick. As silly as it must have looked - a grown woman beating a stick against a tree - it actually felt really good.
As I stepped back from the tree, I noticed it was hardly impacted. Outside of a few missing pieces of bark, it stood tall and strong. I soon realized that all of my swinging had made a bigger impact on me. Over the next several weeks and months that followed, I found myself feeling less and less angry.
Anger is a tricky topic that we easily misunderstand. God doesn't condone taking our anger out on each other or being quick to show a temper or throw a fit.
But, He also doesn't tell us to deny that the emotion of anger exists.
The Bible includes several verses about anger to guide and teach us what to do about it - not shame us for experiencing it as a natural response.
When anger arrives, it signals something's not right. To heal from a hurt, to turn a wrong into a right, we must face anger and what it's telling us.
To put away anger doesn't mean we pretend it's not there, it means we recognize it and then follow the path God's made to help us get rid of it.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, can you help me learn how to manage anger in a Godly way? Help me hold my tongue and temper so I don't hurt others when I'm angry. Help me take an honest glimpse into my own heart and show me if I'm angry toward others, or even you, and how to get rid of it.