Unresolved anger cause havoc in relationships, that was my experience over several decades. What should we do with unresolved anger? How should we resolve it?
Unresolved anger is a bed of hidden coals burning deep wounds into your relationship with God and with others. This powerful emotion robs your heart of peace and steals contentment from your spirit. Psalm 73:21–22 “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.”
How to resolve your anger?
- Realise your burning anger: Admit that you have unresolved anger. Ask God to reveal any buried anger in your heart. Seek to determine the primary reason(s) for your past anger. Talk out your anger with God and with a trusted friend or counsellor. Psalm 38:18 “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.”
- Go back to the root feelings: Did you feel hurt (rejected, betrayed, unloved, ignored)? Did you experience injustice (cheated, wronged, maligned, attacked)? Did you feel fearful (threatened, insecure, out-of-control, powerless)? Did you feel frustrated (inadequate, inferior, hindered, controlled)? Ask God to show you the root feelings of anger. Psalm 139:23–24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
- Be open and receive God’s love: Meditate on and memorise Scripture revealing God’s love for you: Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 32:10; Lamentations 3:22–23; Psalm 89:1; Psalm 13:5–6; Psalm 103:17. Read your Bible daily – try it for 21 days. Rest in the acceptance of God, not in the acceptance of others. Rely on the Lord to meet your inner needs for love, for significance, and for security. 1 John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
- Let go of your rights: Confess to God that harbouring anger in your heart is sin. Give your desire for revenge to God. Refuse to hold on to your past hurts and releasing them to God. Pray for God to work in the life of the one who has wronged you and to change your heart toward that person. Release into the hands of God the one who hurt you. Forgive as God forgave you! Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
- Celebrate God’s purpose: Thank God for the ways He will use this trial in your life. Know that God can use your resolved past anger for your good and for the good of those around you. Praise God for His commitment to use all the circumstances in your life to develop Christ’s character within you, making you strong, firm, and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10 “The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
- If appropriate, restore your relationship: Even if reconciliation is not appropriate (after adultery or with an unrepentant abuser) or not possible (after a death), you must always confess your own sin. Realise that when someone sins against you and you hold on to anger and refuse to be reconciled to the person, you are sinning against both God and that individual. Confess the anger in your heart to God and ask the person to forgive you for refusing to be reconciled. You might want to write the confession out to formulate your thoughts. Be sure the encounter is free of anger and accusatory statements. Matthew 5:21–24
- Show the love of Christ: Actively seek to reflect the love of God toward the person who hurt you. Ask God in prayer: to help you to submit to His control over your life; His mind to direct yours; That He will reflect His attitudes in your actions; Ask Him to guide your words to express His love. John 13:34–35 “A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”