Written with love, by Pastor Dave Page
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from a older woman in my church, prior to getting married. She simply said, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” That advice, to settle accounts quickly, has served us well over the years. We haven’t always done it but it is our goal.
Let’s face it, we all get angry. One study showed that men lose their temper six times per week while women lose their temper three times a week. Anger is most intense toward those we love, not toward strangers. We express our anger most frequently in our home so getting rid of anger is crucial for staying in love.
Anger is a choice, it’s a natural human feeling and it’s a secondary emotion. We bolt over to anger after we’ve been hurt. Anger, per se, isn’t wrong; the key is how we respond. One writer says, "Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry - but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry.”1
What happens when we go to bed angry? If we fall asleep thinking about it we can begin to ruminate on it in the shower the next morning. If the anger persists we can become angry people. Now, it’s not that we get angry, we are angry. Anger becomes a characteristic attitude. We become time bombs just waiting to go off. Prolonged anger turns into bitterness and bitterness kills marriages.
What’s the remedy? Some therapists tell us to express our anger outwardly by screaming into a pillow, or by beating a piñata with a baseball bat, or by hitting a golf ball and pretending it’s your spouse’s head. However, expressing anger only intensifies it.
Should we suppress anger? No.
The only way to effectively deal with the anger is to replace it with something far better. What do we replace it with? The same writer said, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger ...Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other as ... God forgave you.”2 Replace anger and bitterness with kindness and compassion by forgiving your spouse.
As we journey in our marriages we all get hurt and wounded and we can end up carrying around these things for weeks, months, and sometimes even years. After a while these hurts can get really heavy. So the only way to feel better seems to be getting back at them, seeking revenge. But does revenge ever truly satisfy? Maybe forgiving isn't something you do for someone else to let them off the hook.
Maybe forgiveness is about you.
God didn't create you to carry these wounds around. You were created to be free.
Forgive as you have been forgiven. Let it go. Surrender the right to get revenge. Keep short accounts. Forgive and live. You have choice, to live angrily ever after or to live happily ever after.
1 Ephesians 4:26 (Message translation)
2 Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)