Friday, December 8, 2023

Misunderstood and Angry

Suggested Reading: James 4:1-10

When my son entered preschool, his speech skills had not yet progressed to the same point as most of his peers. For a while, his lack of communication skills caused some problems at school. He would try to talk to people but they couldn't understand his words. As a result the person listening would often get frustrated and give up. That, in turn, would make my son frustrated and angry. He wanted to be understood and nobody but Mom and Dad seemed to be able to understand him. His anger started driving him to lash out, which got him in trouble. Our son's behavior made us grow frustrated and angry until we finally figured out the problem. Once we and his teachers figured out that he just wanted to be understood, we were able to do something about it and address the situation.

In James chapter 4, the early church leader asked the question, What causes fights and quarrels among you?   Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight (James 4:1-2, NIV).  James understood that most of the fighting we do is the result of not getting something we want and God felt the need to codify that sentiment in Scripture because we have a tendency to forget that.  Sometimes, when we get angry or hurt, we understand exactly why we feel the way we do. At other times, however, we just feel angry and want to lash out, sometimes at one person, sometimes at everybody, and we don't know why. James reminds us that we tend to quarrel and fight because we have some desire that is not being met, because there is something we want that we're not getting.

If you find yourself getting angry a lot, if you find yourself fighting and lashing out, and you aren't sure why, instead of assuming that there is just "something about that person" that gets to you or excusing yourself because you are "just tired", take some take time and figure out what you want that you're not getting. Once you figure that out, you may discover that you're being silly, that your desires are unreasonable, or that your anger is perfectly justified and you need to address the situation directly. Or you might just decide it's not worth being angry. Whatever you discover, uncovering the source of your anger is infinitely better than constantly losing your cool or fuming inside and not knowing why.

If you're angry and don't know why, figure out what you want that you aren't getting. Once you know why you're angry, you can start to deal with it.

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