Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.
Friend to Friend
There are plenty of things, little things and big things, everyday ordinary things, that can set me off and cause me to lose my temper. I know it’s not Godly. And I’d like to keep quiet rather than blab about it publically here on the internet, but then who’s going to start this conversation? Perhaps you’ve been waiting for an invitation to talk it through, one weary heart to another.
I’ll go first: I wasn’t raised in an angry home, maybe you were. I’d never even been yelled at once. But then I gave birth to my third child, and it was as though every calm, kind place deep within me suddenly broke. Snap. The baby didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t deserve my frustrated tears. And his two big brothers were just busy being toddlers. It wasn’t their fault that I lost my footing each time they lost their shoes. I was simply overwhelmed and exhausted, with a messy house and a husband who traveled for work.
My anger surprised me.
Thankfully, almost immediately, from the pit of my postpartum haze, Bible verses that I never needed before, but were hidden in my heart just the same, came to mind and challenged my emotional behavior. Proverbs 29:11, likely memorized in Sunday School when I was just a child, reminded me that “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” I realized that God didn’t tell me I wasn’t allowed to feel all my emotions, as my hormones shifted, and my husband traveled for work. But He did tell me what to do with my exasperated feelings — I was to quietly hold them back.
Shoving them down to fester into bitterness, or simmer like lava just beneath the surface, didn’t help me either. I had to learn to process my feelings prayerfully, as I held them back wisely. Psalm 4:4 in the English Standard Version of the Bible instructed me, “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah.” Pondering, meditating, and pausing to consider my feelings, became a Spiritual discipline for me. Crying and confessing each time the Lord convicted me, wasn’t enough. Change wasn’t happening just because I felt bad about my anger. I had to actually sit myself down (in a mommy time-out) and get silent. I had to listen. I had to “Selah.”
Selah is the poetic Greek word used in the Psalms to denote a holy pause. Selah instructs the reader to “stop and consider.” God was telling me to stop, in the quiet of my private bedroom, there upon my bed, and consider wise and calm, loving and gentle ways that I wanted to talk to my children, my neighbors, my husband, and my Mother-in-law… even when I was tired and spread too thin. And the more I considered my feelings and my life, the wiser I got. I learned to say no to volunteering in the nursery at church on Sunday mornings, for this busy season. I learned to take my social media apps off of my phone, because they distracted me and didn’t help my emotional stability. I also learned, again, how desperately I needed to abide in God’s Word, so that His Word would continue to abide in me.
All this, and so much more, I learned when I held back my anger and got real quiet upon my bed. God didn’t tell me that I couldn’t feel angry, but He did say I wasn’t to vent my anger. Slowly, gently, He’s transforming my heart and home.
Dear Lord, Thank You for not leaving me alone and unchanged in my sin. You’re always near; always available; always speaking to my heart through Your living Word; and giving me the courage to obey. Thank You for not just convicting me of my sin, but for offering me the transforming help of Your Holy Spirit. Selah.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Today, I opened up to you about my angry sin-tendencies, then I opened up the Word. That’s the key to transformed lives, my friends. Opening up to God and opening up His Word.
Right now, here in the comments below of in your own personal Bible pages, write out a scripture on anger and apply it to your life. You’re welcome to use one of the Bible verses I included in this post, or meditate on one that the Lord leads you to today. But whatever you do, if this is your struggle, open up to God as you open up His Word — it is living and active and able to divide your anger from the gentle, loving sinews of your life.
More from the Girlfriends
If you struggle with anger as you mother your children, pick up a copy of Wendy Speake and Amber Lia’s book, Triggers: Exchanging Parents Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. And if you struggle daily, grab a copy of the Triggers Study Guide too. The Triggers Study Guide is packed full of scriptures that will challenge and transform your heart and your home. Connect with Wendy at Wendyspeake.com or on Facebook.