23 May Anger as a function of past hurts
At the root of the spirit of anger is often tension from past hurts, especially when new offenses remind us of past experiences. Many believers wrongly assume that hurtful past events could be forgotten with no effect on the future. Past hurts do not just simply disappear. Unless these experiences are prayerfully resolved through repentance and forgiveness, we will continue to face bouts of anger when our tension points are triggered. Here are four points to consider this week:
1. THE PAIN OF REJECTION: This is felt especially in childhood. A child forms strong attachment to parents, friends, and relatives and finds security in these relationships. When those who are trusted communicate rejection, the child’s secure world collapses and he or she faces a host of fears. The pain of rejection and the torment of fears can cause the child to develop deep bitterness towards the one who is responsible for his pain, and anyone who look like them. So, if an uncle who is a teacher, abuses a child, anytime that child enters a classroom, anger wells up in him or her.
2. THE REACTION TO OUR PHYSICAL FEATURES: Many people find it difficult to accept unchangeable features, such as physical appearance, mental capabilities, birth order, race, etc. For example, when someone mocks or ridicules a child who is already insecure, it is a devastating blow to his self-esteem. Ridicule does not just attack a child’s actions, —it mocks him as a person. And the one who has experienced ridicule will be extremely sensitive to anyone else who ridicules him or others. The anger he feels is motivated by a desire for the punishment of anyone who mocks others. And the child grows up to an adult with anger problems.
3. THE GRIEF OF FAVORITISM: When parents favor one child over another, they are not only damaging the self-worth of the child who is less appreciated, they are also encouraging him or her to react towards the one who is favored. Favoritism to one may be seen as rejection by the other. In the Bible, Jacob favored Joseph over the rest of his sons. As such, Joseph’s brothers resented him, and sold him into slavery. Then they led Jacob to believe that Joseph had died. (See Genesis 39.) Thank God for turning what was meant for evil into good.
4. THE ANGUISH OF FALSE ACCUSATIONS: A person’s reputation has great worth. The Bible says “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Pro 22:1). A false accusation not only damages the one who is accused, it also stirs up indignation and a desire to see the false accuser brought to justice. The mixture of guilt and pain that surrounds the memory of these experiences triggers anger when we face similar situations.