This week's Gentleness Challenge focuses on "anger". Most everyone is affected in one way or another by anger. Although the intensity and outbursts may change, anger wells up in us all at certain times.
To enhance the quality of gentleness in our lives, we must look deep at what is not gentle. Anger is not gentle. The giving end and the receiving end are ugly. Anger makes us say things we wouldn't ordinarily say and act out in ways we usually wouldn't act.
A recent Sunday morning found me in front of the mirror wearing my Sunday best, having a good Sunday morning where the whole family was getting ready for church. Breakfast had been cooked, kitchen was clean, lunch was baking in the oven and we were on time. Perfect! As it got to be time to leave, one son was having issues with the right shoes, one son was still eating and one was hogging the bathroom. Quick as a spark, my anger lighted. Sharp words were spoken, feelings got hurt and our drive to church was marred by an angry reaction.
A variety of things can bring about a spark of anger. We will get angry at times. The only course of action we can control is our reaction. Self control is also a fruit of the spirit which can be practiced in those moments of anger. Self control restrains us from doing the thing we want to do when angry. It can save us from letting anger become destructive.
A verse I taught my sons when they were younger was Proverbs 15:1 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." My reaction when angry can diffuse anger or stir it up greater.
A few steps to help control anger may be:
- Step back - get away from the situation for a moment to regroup
- Count to 10 - breath deep and focus on calming down
- Slow down - NOW is the time to practice and gain self control
- Express calmly the feelings or situation which brought the anger on
- Find Bible verses on anger, keep them handy and read them in the heat of the moment
- Respond, don't react.
Anger will flair up at various times. Be prepared for it to! But go ahead and plan a better response. Watch the circumstances which lead to anger, head them off when possible. Building character is simply replacing bad habits with better habits. This is built through practice! Make the effort to be gentle in the face of anger. The more we deliberately choose the right thing, the easier it becomes to do it.
Be challenged and encouraged this week to look out for and be ready to replace angry actions with self control and gentleness!