The Physical Effects of Anger
Anger can do crazy things to you.
I didn’t think I had anger “issues” before I had kids. You know what I mean? I thought I was a pretty laid back girl. (See my last post.) But these sweet faces that I prayed for, for years, can push my buttons like none other. And they don’t just push – they party. And when that happens, I can go from zero to crazy in no time flat.
Anger can cause us to do and say and act in ways we never thought possible.
However, let me clarify something: Anger in itself is not wrong. Anger is simply an emotion. God designed us to be women of passion and emotion…sometimes very strong emotion. There’s nothing wrong with being angry, and with so much wrong in the world, it’s the most natural reaction there is.
Human trafficking angers me.
School shootings anger me.
Poverty and corruption in Haiti anger me.
Even the Bible tells of Jesus getting good and mad in the temple one day, flipping tables and going off on those around Him. Anger is an emotion that is normal and at times, necessary.
However, the anger I’m referring to is the one that goes over the top. The kind that is out of control, destructive, volatile, that presents itself with stinging words, condemnation and pain.
The kind that finds you shaking after you’ve just yelled at your kids.
So many women have told me they get this, but so often it’s such a taboo subject. We all know we get frustrated, with our kids and others, but not many of us discuss the anger that so many of us experience.
And yet, it deeply affects us. It jacks up our relationships and it splits up our families. It also affects us internally, distorting our perspective and messes with us physically.
All you have to do is Google “physical effects of anger” to find a slew of findings. Here’s a few in a nutshell:
- During an outburst of anger, the average heart rates goes from 80 to 180.
- Blood pressure rises from 120 over 80 to 220 over 130.
- The body uses up sugar extremely fast creating a sugar deficiency, causing an angry person to shake.
- Each episode of anger or hostility causes your coronary arteries to narrow, and your blood to become thicker. When the blood becomes thicker, the heart has to work harder to pump it. A dangerous situation for someone with heart problems.
Several reports claim that chronic anger may actually be more dangerous to our health than smoking or obesity. Serious stuff.
So here I was, a mom of four children, and suddenly finding myself in the heat of anger, much more often than I expected. As I talked about last time, after one of my over-the-top-yelling moments, God asked me a very attention-getting question: Is this what you want? Did I want to get 10 years down the road and still be dealing with anger? Did I want the same sin that has plagued my family for generations to remain a stronghold? My answer was a resounding, NO.
So here’s two things I realized:
1. I needed His help. I could not pull this off on my own. I couldn’t just dust myself off and do better. That was not working. I was stuck in this pattern of anger/shame/guilt. I desperately needed Him to change me from the inside out. That Hillsong chorus became my anthem:
A thousand times I’ve failed, still your mercy remains, and should I stumble again, I’m caught in Your grace…in my heart and my soul, I give you control…consume me from the inside out…
I found myself on my knees, asking Him to change me. In moments of weakness, in moments of strength, my prayer was . . . God change me from the inside out.
2. I needed His Word to soak into the marrow of my life. These two verses became very real and very personal to me:
In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27
I love this verse because it says right off the bat – you’re gonna get angry. Just don’t sin. Anger is an OK emotion, just don’t let it overtake you. Then don’t let it give the enemy a place to hang out. Deal with it, wrap it up and let it go.
But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
As I would quote the last part of that verse, again, God showed me that my anger was not achieving the righteousness He had for my kids. At all. I asked God for His grace to be His righteousness to my kids, to be the parent He had created me to be.
So . . . those were my two biggees – prayer and His Word.
Not complex . . . yet completely life-changing.
As I yielded to Him, God began to change my learned physiological responses and exchange them for His responses. He began to give me…
- His eyes, to see my children as He sees them, with love and compassion
- His heart, to understand them with grace and patience
- His ears, to hear their dreams and desires
- His mouth, to speak life and love into their hearts
God in His grace and mercy, began to change me from the inside out.
Now lest ye be fooled, there is no perfection here. Just ask my kids! But as God is transforming me, I’m also learning to…
- Be quick to ask forgiveness (from God and my kids)
- Remember how my Father in heaven parents me – with love and grace.
God does not keep me in the dog-house, He does not shame me or hold my sin over my head. He loves, He forgives, and He has removed my sin as far from me as the east is from the west (Psalm 103). Thank you, Jesus.
I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put
a new Spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you
a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so
you will obey my laws and do whatever I command. Ezekiel 36:26-27
Anger may tempt us to do crazy things. But allowing Him to change us from the inside out will bring life and health to you, to your family, and to generations to come. I want that, don’t you?
In my heart and my soul, I give you control, consume me from the inside out . . .
this hits close to home for me. I am quick to anger with my family even in times when I should just walk away. I am claiming for God to consume me from the inside out.
So good, Julie. Excellent post and series. Appreciate you talking freely about something that can bring such shame. I pray it opens eyes, offers strategies, and frees women. Great job!
Amen, sister 🙂
In one (NOT down-on-my-knees, but) FULL prostrate moments, I begged God to tell me why within minutes of waking up happy can my kids bring out such anger in me? I was sick of my internal (and sometimes external) chant of “slow to speak, slow to anger” AND I was exhausted of asking for repeated forgiveness. I needed answers – I NEEDED to be proactive in this spiritual battle. I needed God to show me how to arm myself against evil. God simply said three life-altering words, “You’re not ready.” That’s all, but that was everything to me. To me, that meant, “get up earlier than your kids, have your moment with ME and give ME your day, have a cup of coffee, breathe…then you will receive your kids as I always receive you.” THANK YOU, Julie, for bringing this subject into His LIGHT. Together we are better.
So true Carrie, we are better when we bring darkness into Light, and encourage each other. Thank you for your example to me and your encouragement to “ready yourself” with His strength for the day.
Thank you so much for this post, Julie! As I began reading this I thought, “I don’t struggle with anger!” By the end of it I realized, “Oh, yes I do.” I love the scripture from Ezekiel, it is so wonderful that God is going to change my heart if I let Him.
HAS ANYONE Had anger issues from unhealed childhood trauma?