When anger gets the best of you

I remember it so well.  I woke up angry that day. My mind was made up, or maybe I should say my heart was made up.

My son David had died a few months before and my emotions were all over the place. Shouldn’t we be allowed to just be angry that someone we love is gone?

Anger tends to feed us, drive us on these days. It’s not pretty or becoming. I usually hole up in my house when these emotions hit me, and God help those in the house if you know what I mean. Again. Not pretty.

My husband Mike was aware of my demeanor that day. He suggested we go to a sports bar for lunch. I REALLY didn’t want to go but reluctantly agreed. So, sporting our best Packer attire, we shared appetizers, sipped beer and watched football with others in the crowd.

I was starting to relax a little, at least until the woman next to us started getting a little over zealous in rooting her team on. She was sitting at the bar along with her husband and two young boys. I felt uneasy each time she spouted off, “Jeesus!” The entire restaurant could hear her. I found myself in a bad place.

I was just waiting for her to make a comment to us, whether it be regarding our Packer shirts or anything else for that matter. I was readying myself to call her out. I was prepared to comment on her repeated “prayers” to Jesus, all because her football team wasn’t performing the way she thought they should.

Really? She barked out Jesus’ name with such anger, arrogance and frustration. It was a stab in my heart every time. It grieved me on top of the grief I was already feeling. It angered me on top of the anger I was already feeling. My heart rate began to skyrocket.

Was I being judgmental or holier than thou in the moment? I suppose so, to a degree, but more than anything the reality of my situation began to spring to the surface as she spoke.

Bottom line, I speak Jesus’ name too, but the context is a bit different for me. David’s death encompasses my life. There’s no escaping it. My pain is as deep as I’ve ever experienced. Football games or heavy traffic have nothing to do with it.

Funny how some throw out His name in anger and no one blinks an eye, but when you cry out His name during suffering people look at you as if you have a third eye.

Yeah, I cry out to Jesus. I’m a Mom who lost her son! It hurts not having David here. I miss him so much. The fear of living in a constant state of discontent for the rest of my life has haunted me, especially in those early months and years following his death.

I know coping with anger is challenging, but adding in raw, excruciating pain makes it downright brutal. When you’re grieving, these two emotions intertwine just like a Chinese finger trap. It’s hard to break free, and the more you struggle, the tighter the grip becomes.

When left unchecked, anger becomes an offensive mechanism to prevent a defensive reaction.  It prevents us from confronting what we don’t want to think about, what we can’t quite put into words to begin with, and finally, what we feel will completely break us in the process if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to it.

This protective wall of anger we put up is not something that strong, courageous people do. It’s actually just the opposite. It’s something that broken people do in the midst of the worst pain they’ve ever encountered, but instead of protecting us, it pushes us deeper into the abyss. We can’t expect to get better if our hearts are hardened with anger.

I didn’t confront the mother that day. Mike thought it was in my best interest not to. Wise counsel. I have no doubt she would have had me for lunch! I haven’t been in a fight since, well, I’ve never been in a fight.

I think she was struggling that day too. Maybe she woke up angry just like me, and it played out as she watched a simple game of football. I’m guessing her anger and frustration wasn’t about the game, just as her behavior wasn’t at the core of mine. You never know how others may be suffering. I learned it’s best to keep judgement at bay.

How do you handle your anger?

This isn’t exclusively a grieving thing. This is a human thing. Our mood can potentially set the course for how we respond to others whose mood is also less than desirable. Some things will just set us off, and sometimes it all hinges on how well we’re handling our grief in that very moment. #emotionaltimebomb.

Acting out in anger begets more anger. It’ll eat you alive unless you tackle it, and you may not even see it coming. That’s what happened to me. I was sad and mad at the world when I left the house that day. I allowed the behavior of another to dictate mine. Yikes! This wasn’t my personality, but it was what I’d become.

Chalk it all up to grief lessons learned. I’m thankful for them. They’re what’s shaping and growing me through this journey.

* If I allow anger to get the best of me then I’ll have nothing left to give.

* I should’ve taken it to God to begin with, and trusted Him with the outcome. I know this would’ve prepared my heart before even stepping foot in the restaurant that day.

* Yes, even though I found her words offensive, I should’ve cut this Mom some slack, not knowing what she could’ve been going through at the time.

* I shouldn’t be surprised by the good, bad and ugly emotions I experience. As much as I shutter when emotional waves come crashing in, I also know the calm after the storm will follow. God is faithful. He has proven this over and over again to me. I’m not sure why I forget this!

No, I don’t have a third eye in the middle of my forehead, but I do have a gaping hole in my heart that only Jesus can fill. When we find ourselves in the darkest, deepest pit of despair, He is with us. Every time.

When you know who Jesus is, then you know how His sacrifice on the cross changes our outlook on everything. I know that David is in heaven. I know one day I’ll see him again. While I’m still broken, I am also very thankful. An odd combo to be sure, but hey, I’m still here aren’t I? I’m surviving! Truth be told, I was scared I wouldn’t. Believe me, this is something to be thankful for in and of itself.

Dear Friend,

Jesus’ name is more than just a name. If you want to know Him you have to know him, so I would encourage you to actually get to know Him. It just may change the way you think about Him, the way you talk about Him and talk to Him. You may end up realizing you’ve needed Him all along. I swear I won’t use the word ‘know’ again. Whoops.

God tells us it’s okay to be angry, but we need to know it can overtake us and lead to sinful behavior/actions. This can then present a whole new set of problems to stack on top of the ones we’re already trying to balance. Get professional help if you need to, but take it to God. Always take it to God. 

God bless you, and remember, you are not alone.



Ephesians 4:26

“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

John 20:31

“But these were written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”