To Be Sung to the Tune “Do Not Destroy”

When I was a kid there was a television show called Name That Tune. Two contestants would have a bid off on how many notes they’d need to name a tune.

Contestant A: I can name that tune in seven notes.

Contestant B would think for a moment and then respond: I can name that tune in six notes.

And on the bidding went until one contestant knew they couldn’t go any lower and would say to the other, “Name that tune!”

Let’s play a version called “Name that Bible verse” – in three words.

“Do ….. not …. let ….”

 

 

 

 

 

I’d bet many of you said, “the sun go down on your anger.”

This verse from Ephesians has done more to misinform us about anger than inform us. Part of the problem is that we reference it out of context (which I don’t have time to go into now, maybe in another post). And part of the problem is we are drawn to simple solutions, even if they are rather ill fitted for the situation.

This stand-alone verse has resulted a generation that feels guilty about anger and doesn’t really know how to handle it when it comes to complicated matters.  I believe there is a silent anger epidemic in the ranks of overseas workers.

Anger at teammates.

Anger that others have more money.

Anger at the injustice we often feel helpless in the face of.

Anger at the advantages we might have over our local friends.

Anger at not getting to be with friends back home, have things others our age might have back home, or be away from family at holidays.

Anger that husbands aren’t appearing.

Anger that husbands have secret sins or don’t spend enough time with the family or us … and we have to put on happy faces.

Anger at God … but often we don’t know how to even go there.

Anger we have no idea what to do with so either we rage or internalize it, allowing anger to eat us from the inside out.

Here is the good news. Anger is a God given gift. It is one of the ways we have been made in his image. God gets angry at injustice.

The problem is many of us don’t have separate categories for “Good anger” and “Bad anger.” Instead we’ve lumped all anger as either good/justified or bad/to be avoided at all costs.

This is a simplified distinction, good anger helps us to identify and rally against injustice. It helps us to protect and provide for the least amongst us. It gets us off our behinds and can propel us to action.

And “bad anger” isn’t really the problem either, it’s how we handle and express anger that we often sin. By saying things we shouldn’t, by screaming and scaring people, by throwing or shoving or some other physical response to a situation. Or by icing people out. Or denying we are angry. We have a variety of ways of expressing anger.

Thankfully, God has not left us in this angry state without resources or ways to grow. Think of anger like a warning light on a car dashboard. The light points to a problem (or a potential one) and lets us know we need to address it before it becomes a BIG problem. Anger, in an unexpected way, is a gift that lets us know something isn’t right, something can no longer be ignored or left as it is.

Another way to view anger is as a big brother protecting a little sister. Why are we angry? Because it’s powerful. I don’t know about you, but when I’m angry, it’s empowering. There’s a rush. But the truth is anger is often protecting a “weaker” emotion like sadness, betrayal, hurt, being misunderstood, disappointment or envy.

Envy, on her own, is kind of weak and easy to poke holes at. However, when protected by her big brother ANGER, suddenly envy has power. If I see my friends back home who are around the same age as me buying houses and all I own is a bunch of books and some more and more out of fashion clothes, one response is envy. But instead of being able to just sit and be sad and deal with my envy, I might get angry when my agency decides to raise the monthly amount I need to raise and send a group email I regret.

The big brother/little sister analogy has changed my relationship with anger. I have slowly trained myself when I’m angry to take the time to see if I’m angry about a Godly injustice or if my anger is protecting an emotion I’d rather not deal with. If it’s the later, I make myself name what’s the emotion behind my anger and then God and I can deal with it.

The title of this post is from Psalm 57. The psalm instructs: To be sung to the tune, “Do Not Destroy.”  I love there was such a song! This week we are going to look at anger, and you know what, I’m rather excited about it. Right here, this week, let’s make some forays into being a people who are no longer slaves to anger, held in bondage to a part of our lives we want to freedom and growth. Willing to join us? Willing to sing about not destroying with or being destroyed by our anger?

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A helpful place to start if you’d like to read more on anger is Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way by Gary Chapman

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12 Comments

  1. Shelly April 27, 2014

    To be honest, by first guess for name that verse was “Do not let…your hearts be troubled.” 🙂

    But when it is troubled to the point of anger, I appreciate your awareness raising big bro/little sis analogy about anger protecting some other, weaker, emotion.

    1. Amy Young April 28, 2014

      Ha!! Ah, if I had said, Name that verse in FOUR words, the “the” might have lead you right to it :). As the Heath brothers say, “the curse of knowledge” — I could so clearly hear it in my brain :). Still, glad the big bro/little sister helped. It’s really changed things for me too!

  2. Elizabeth April 28, 2014

    I love Gary Chapman’s books and videos! I don’t know that one, but I’m sure it’s good. And it’s so true that we cross cultural workers are angry. And I think often, the magnitude of our anger cannot be explained by the daily triggers. Something else underlies it. But good little Christians that we are, we spiritualize the issue and refuse to deal with the underlying cause, unresolved issues either from before moving overseas or something big that happened over here (rather than the smaller things that triggered the outburst). Love this part: “But the truth is anger is often protecting a “weaker” emotion like sadness, betrayal, hurt, being misunderstood, disappointment or envy.” And this: “Anger, in an unexpected way, is a gift that lets us know something isn’t right, something can no longer be ignored or left as it is.” Thank God for that!

    1. Amy Young April 28, 2014

      Elizabeth, I agree, we are an angry lot. If only we’d realize how God can handle our anger. He’s not threatened by it. Or scared. He’s only concerned for the ways it gets in the way of us being more fully and truly ourselves. And because of that, getting in the way of so many aspects of our lives. I think God would love it if we could admit our anger and then find ways to process it and connect with others. Anger can be so isolating because it is so shaming. 

      1. Elizabeth April 29, 2014

        I think it’s sort of ironic, actually, because “they” always tell you that your worst stuff will come out overseas, under all the added stress. And they say it like it’s a bad thing, that you might fall apart overseas if you’re not already all put together, or that you shouldn’t go unless there are no shortcomings anywhere in your life. But what if that warning is actually a good thing? Maybe God wants us to realize this junk is there, it’s been there all along, that we should do something about it, and more importantly, that HE will help us do something about it. Experiencing some of that right now in my life, and very thankful for it. An “unexpected journey,” so to speak. 🙂

        1. Amy Young April 30, 2014

          Agreed!! When something is coming up/out it’s because it is God’s timing in your life! Though it might get worse for a while (or be personally unpleasant!), ultimately, the change will bring life. Thinking of you as you “journey” now 🙂

        2. morielle May 4, 2014

          Elizabeth, this has been a really helpful point for me. I shouldn’t run from situations just because they may bring out my worst — in fact, that may be exactly what I need most.

  3. Debbie April 28, 2014

    I had just finished trying to express my anger with the Lord, opened my email and here was this post. I am looking forward to reading this week’s posts on anger and gleaning from them. Maybe I will feel brave enough to share about my anger.

    1. Amy Young April 28, 2014

      Debbie, no pressure on expressing your anger … but also know that we would be honored to walk along this part of your journey. My new fav verse (for a while) is 2 Samuel 6:8 :). Go David!

  4. laura April 30, 2014

    I’m with Shelly, I thought is was ‘your hearts be troubled.’

    Anger has been a common thread through my years overseas – learning that it is, indeed, a God given gift.  That I don’t need to be afraid of it.  That I do need to acknowledge it.  No, I don’t always get it right and sometimes it gets the better of me but there have been times that I haven’t allowed something to anger me that probably should have.  That I have not accepted the messiness of anger (as I perceive it, anyway).  Anger has made me more raw than I often care to be but has also allowed me to be more authentic that I thought was possible.

    I, too, often find myself stepping back and trying to determine what is really underneath the anger…. what is it that I am feeling, sensing, discerning?  Sometimes there is something there that needs to be acted upon to bring change or growth in my life and sometimes even the lives of others.  It’s not easy to be a catalyst for change. Sometimes that makes me angry. Sometimes it makes me tired. Sometimes it makes me glad.  Sometimes I end up right where I need to be – in the room of his mercy and grace. Then it’s just beautiful.

  5. morielle May 4, 2014

    Oh, Amy! I don’t know how this slipped past me and I only just read it but I LOVE it. I learned a good hard lesson in anger hiding a smaller emotion (in my case, wounded insecurity) earlier this year. I interpreted it through the lesson Jesus taught of removing the plank  in your own eye so that you can see clearly to find the speck in your neighbor’s eye. I was so busy going straight for my neighbor, I had no idea that plank (again, wounded insecurity) was totally blinding me. If only I’d just been able to acknowledge and confess it!

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