Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way
Dr. Gary Chapman
We are using a companion to the word of God on this issue. The Book by Dr. Gary Chapman, Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way. If you do not have a copy I recommend you buy one on line or let us order you one. Download one to your computer, smartphone, or book reader.
So we see anger at its heart is the result of something we feel is not RIGHT or JUST
It is more though than a simple emotion, what is it? physiological response of body, mind, and will.
Our author says that anger is rooted in the in the NATURE OF GOD.
What are the two aspects of God’s nature that are involved in Anger? His Holiness and His Love
What does Dr. Chapman say that Anger is designed to Do at the beginning of Chapter Two? Human anger is designed by God to motivate us to take constructive action in the face of wrongdoing or when facing injustice (p22)
Chapter three talks about Anger toward others with whom we are in a relationship.
Dr. Chapman says we need to ask a two questions about processing our anger … do you remember them?
- 1)Is my response positive
- 2)Is my response loving
So then our writer gives us Five Step Process for Dealing with Valid Anger
- 1)Acknowledge The Anger –
- 2)Restrain Immediate Response –
- 3)Locate Focus –
- 4)Analyze Your Options –
- 5)Take Constructive Action –
We have seen anger portrayed to us as GOOD and LOVING and CONSTRUCTIVE. But most of the time that is NOT the way we experience anger. Now as we move into Chapter 4 we begin to get to the “ugly side” of anger and where it comes from.
Right off the bat, we are introduced to the concept of definitive and distorted anger as Gary Chapman has defined them for us.
Dr. Chapman says that definitive anger comes from ACTUAL wrongdoing by someone toward us. In other words we are treated unfairly, someone steals, someone lies, they have committed a WRONG toward us or someone we are protecting. He further says that this is the ONLY kind of anger God experiences. It is “VALID” he says.
Then there is distorted anger. The name kind of gives us a hint of where we are headed. If it is distorted that means it has taken on a shape that it was never meant to have. I think of carnival mirrors when I think of distortion. We look at ourselves but the image is distorted. In this case we experience an emotion and actions that are NOT what they should be … we have distorted them. He says that this anger is triggered not by actual wrongdoing but by disappointment, frustration, a bad mood, lack of fulfillment or a myriad of other things. He further says “the situation simply has made life inconvenient for us, touched one of our emotional hot spots, or happened at a time when we were extremely tired or stressed.” … Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Dr. Chapman says this anger, though real, and felt, is “distorted anger”
Frustration, disappointment, hurt, embarrassment … but if I get control of these, my response should be different than to definitive anger.
Determining the Reality – Is there Wrongdoing?
Sometimes we PERCEIVE wrong but there is NONE … that is distorted anger
Sometimes our interpretation of the event is incorrect
ALL ANGER --- contains
- a “Provoking Event” … something happens that gets us RILED UP.
- An “Interpretation” of what has happened
- A “Rising Emotion”
Remember this is an event of mind, body, and will. So stuff happens, we feel it in both definitive AND distorted anger
But how we USE our Mind, Will, and Body will determine how we process it. We need time, wisdom, and often restraint like we learned in Chapter 3.
So we have to ASK TWO QUESTIONS
- What Wrong has been Committed?
- Am I SURE I have ALL the Facts?
Oh don’t confuse me with the facts … How I answer those questions will determine if GOOD and CONSTRUCTIVE action CAN and SHOULD be taken in this situation.
Is this something someone did to wrong me or is this just about MY FEELINGS …
Now, I need to also make sure I have all the facts before I respond too. The action done toward me may have an explanation
Good Anger – is Definitive
- Because of a genuine wrongdoing
- Laws or Morals have been violated
- If a wrong is committed and I have all the facts … Confront the person OR Decide to Overlook
Bad Anger – Distorted
- Anger because of a perceived wrongdoing but none has occurred
- Hurt, fatigue, stress, expectations are the cause
- We are frustrated, disappointed
- Stop the Anger, get better information in order to process your anger
Now, this week, quickly, let’s look at a man instead of God
Cain’s Anger on Display
You probably know this story … it is the FIRST and most FAMOUS action of Human Anger in Scripture …
Read Genesis 4:2b-16
Why Was Cain Angry?
- Jealousy -
his brother’s offering was accepted and his was not … notice that v3-4 says “Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil … Abel brought fat portions from the firstborn”
- Didn’t like being told HOW to do anything let alone worship …
How do we know that he had been told what was acceptable? First by the JUSTICE and HOLINESS of God … He would not require something from Cain that he had not been taught. Most likely the teaching came from Adam. But God said, in verse 7, “if you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it”
- Inconvenience –
If God required a FIRST FRUIT as he always does in scripture, then he was responsible for HOW he worshipped God not just with how much he brought. Abel brought the fat portions from the firstborn. Cain brought SOME of the fruits of the soil. It was inconvenient I guess for him to bother with saving the first and best and bringing that to God, he just brought him what he wanted to. But that was NOT his decision. Also if God in this case required a BLOOD sacrifice, then it would require Cain trading with Abel to have an acceptable sacrifice. Again this was inconvenient for Cain … “what’s wrong with my stuff, it’s just as good as Abel’s” … the only problem was that God had given instructions
Was His Anger Valid?
- Was it definitive or distorted?
Refer back to verse 7 … God told him he didn’t have a reason to be angry, or downcast (sad) he COULD CHOOSE to do what was right …
God pointed OUT that it was distorted and challenged him to be aware, be vigilant and process his anger through confession and repentance and do the right thing … he challenged him not to give in
- His anger was distorted in how he acted upon it.
He took it out initially on Abel who himself had done no wrong to God OR to Cain.
- His anger was distorted because it didn’t match the perceived wrong,
even in an “eye for an eye” world, Cain had not been physically hurt and he went to the complete end of the spectrum and murdered Abel
- God is who he was really angry with.
But was his anger with God valid? NO … because this was NOT about Cain. Worship was an action that was to be GIVEN to God who is MOST WORTHY to receive it and God himself had determined HOW they were to worship and He himself defined acceptable worship for them. So this was NOT an affront to Cain, but a reasonable expectation.
Did He Learn From His Anger?
- NO -
he got angry, God showed him, he could have checked himself … but instead he killed his Brother, angry with HIM for being obedient to God and making Cain look bad
- Did he learn from his action to Abel when God pronounced Judgment on him?
Did you notice that his sin carried the punishment of a complete change in life vocation for Cain.
- Knowing what I know about God, it seems to me that God was giving Cain an opportunity to make a change even while bearing the consequences of his sin. But does he learn from it?
NO – he instead “leaves the Lord’s Presence” … he completely left any relationship with God. He may have had to change his vocation but he didn’t have to leave the relationship.
How COULD he have Responded in each Situation?
- Obedience –
in the First Place, Second place, Third Place
- Confession and Repentance
after initial feelings of anger Before Killing Abel
- Confession and Repentance
after God’s Judgment After Killing Abel
Even Distorted Anger, doesn’t have to be the End
But when we are Angry, EVEN in Definitive Anger, we need to be aware and fearful of the potential power that anger has and that in our anger, Satan is always crouching at the door wanting to distort and destroy … that is what he does
John 10:10 The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life
There is always death when we give in and always life when we respond in faith
Now, I want you to break up into smaller groups of 3-5 … and discuss the questions and reflections on the book … Focus first on the Reflections … then on the questions as time permits … and then please spend some time on the Personal Application at home in your time alone as it will help you as you begin this journey on handling anger in a healthy way.
Please save some time at the end of your discussion to share prayer requests and answered prayers with the group and pray together
1. when is a recent time you felt you had “the right” to become angry? What made you feel this way?
2. how would you define the difference between definitive and distorted anger?
3. which biblical example of distorted anger from this chapter stands out to you the most? What about it connects with your life?
4. What are some of the key ways to identify distorted anger in your life?
1. Think of a time when your anger was distorted. What triggered that anger. How does identifying the trigger assist in processing distorted anger?
2. How does identifying distorted anger complement the concept of learning from your mistakes? I.E. how does identifying the past sources help you gain perspective for the future potential situations?
1. can you think of someone ou have recently hurt in your expression of distorted anger? Contact them via, phone, email, letter, or in person to apologize for the way you displayed distorted anger