Finding Peace in an Age of Outrage
Finding peace when everything around you is in chaos means quieting what’s in the world to hear God better.
“The anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.”
I felt the waves of irritation rising in my chest, boiling below the surface. If my three-year-old threw one more tantrum I was going to lose it. It felt like we couldn’t go more than twenty minutes without a sister fight, the baby crying, or me getting interrupted.
I locked myself in the bathroom for a break and jumped on social media. It only took a few posts for the anger to rise again. How can they say that? Don’t they know…? I clicked out and sat with my head in my hands. Angry. All the time.
My emotional default is anger. Kids didn’t cause it; they just aggravated my existing predisposition with the inevitable things kids do: yell, make messes, fight, disobey – things every five and three-year-old does on occasion! I know the season of small kids is a stage; I know my irritation is my responsibility. But it still leaves me locked in the bathroom trying to figure out how NOT to yell.
And then there’s the online world. I get angry at the injustices, the wrongs that go unpunished, the ideologies and worldviews that are damaging and false. My outrage lasts even when I close out (or delete!) the app, and it carries over to my marriage and motherhood. But I don’t want to be an angry mom, wife, or woman. I don’t want to live in a constant state of outrage over the news or perpetual annoyance at my kids’ latest act. I want better.
Righteous and Unrighteous Anger
One of the big mistakes I’ve made as a believer in Christ is justifying my anger because it’s “righteous”. Perhaps I am outraged at some terrible news in the world. My desire for justice is not wrong; it reflects the heart of God. But what happens after that?
- Do I become anxious and lash out at my husband?
- Do I get irritated at my kids for not listening, and lose my temper?
- Do I type an angry comment on social media to “set the record straight”?
- And do I attempt to justify this behavior because “Jesus turned tables in the Temple”?
As we consider our anger, we have to ask: What do I let my anger do? How does it direct me? We are not Jesus. We are not perfect, and we can’t justify ourselves in comparison to His perfect justice. But we can be led by His Spirit into the kind of justice He expects. More often than not, He expects us to let Him work justice and us to show grace. Our anger may have righteous or justified beginnings, but without submitting it to Christ, it can have a very unrighteous ending. The anger of man, as James says, does not accomplish the righteousness of God.
In those moments of irritation and outrage, I consciously stop myself and repeat James 2:10. I ask the Lord: Am I letting my quest for justice or personal peace undermine the gospel? And if so, I repent of where I’m exalting myself. I repent of thinking I have the ability to make things right when there is One who reconciles all things to Himself.
Practically, I have found my time in the Word and prayer to be utterly essential to overcoming anger. Prayer is the safe place for outrage. It is where we trade our anger for His understanding. I also delete social media, remove newsfeeds, and block out any voices that contribute to my irritation. Does this mean I’m not always aware of the latest news? Yes. But I do what is necessary to keep my heart and actions aligned with the heart and desires of Christ.
Anger may meet us, but it doesn’t have to own us. There is something better for the women of God.
*If you struggle with anger postpartum, this can be a manifestation of postpartum anxiety. A licensed professional counselor (I use a Christian LPC) can be an excellent resource for support.
In His Word
Proverbs 37:8: “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” (ESV)
Eph. 4:26 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (ESV)
Prov. 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (ESV)
In Your Life
What triggers your anger? How can you set up healthy boundaries in this area?
How does your anger typically direct you? What do you do with it?
Have you made time in the Word a priority? How can you do that this week?
A Gentle Answer by Scott Sauls
Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow
You can find Phylicia on her blog at Phylicia Masonheimer: Every Woman A Theologian. Also, check out her latest book Stop Calling Me Beautiful. She invites you to stop by and say ‘Hi’ on her Instagram or on Facebook.
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