Confessions of a Christian With Anger Issues

| October 4, 2018
My anger issues and Jesus

I am a Christian with a temper.

Yes, it’s possible to love Jesus and still have anger issues. I’d like to share my journey with anger for other hot-headed Christians hiding out there. With God’s help, I’m learning to apply His anger management plan, make better choices, and live in peace. I’m here to tell you that you can, too.

From Mouse to Monster

I wasn’t always an angry person. In fact, I was a mouse. I was pushed around by my younger siblings at home and spent way too many lunch hours hiding in the girl’s restroom at school. Fighting was naughty and I was a good girl, so I silently fled instead.

Until I couldn’t take it anymore. I started fighting back. Standing up for myself quickly became so intoxicating that I relished opportunities to intimidate people. I was proud of my newfound “strength”. A few years and lots of hardships later, I was calloused. I had become walking anger.

I didn’t realize how difficult and miserable I’d become until my world was shaken in ways I thought only happened to other people who didn’t know better. That’s when the monster got out. I was consumed with a rage that frightened me, and I had no idea what to do with it. I was shocked that a good Christian girl like me could harbor such raw, unbridled fury.

Thankfully, I knew where to go. Or rather to Whom.

Learning God’s Anger Management Plan

Prayer and desperation led me to the book Overcoming Emotions that Destroy by Chip Ingram and Dr. Becca Johnson. Through prayer, I have been learning to apply the concepts from this book, and it’s changing not only my life, but the entire day-to-day relationships and dynamics in my home.

I learned that the crux of God’s anger management plan revolves around three verses that tell us to really listen before we speak and stay calm (James 1:19-20), replace anger with kindness (Ephesians 4:31-32), and that vengeance is God’s job, not yours (Romans 12:19).

I’ve heard these verses and others like it many times, but living out God’s instructions was out of reach for me.

Learning to Carry Our Cross

1 way we can carry our cross as believers

Learning to carry our cross

As I prayed and continued reading the book, I came across another familiar, yet elusive verse that echoed in my thoughts for weeks.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me…’” (Matthew 16:24).

I’ve always been afraid of this verse because I thought it meant that the only way to follow Jesus was to be martyred, but obedience to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to study Matthew 16:24 led to my breakthrough. I learned that Jesus was not telling us to take up His cross; only He could do that. As Jesus’ followers, we are instructed to take up our cross.

But what is our cross?

The Bible repeatedly tells us to deny our selfish passions, and put our sinful nature to death, so we may instead live as Christ instructs us. Our cross is to crucify our selfishness and live by God’s Word.

As I resumed reading Overcoming Emotions that Destroy, I learned that feeling angry is not a sin, but living in anger is. It’s human nature to focus on how we were wronged, disappointed, or hurt, but God wants us to focus on Him. We have to crucify the natural inclination to linger in anger to instead follow Jesus’ instructions.

Leaning on Jesus Every Minute of Every Day

I’m learning to deal with anger God’s way, not dwell on it as the enemy would like. Understanding Matthew 16:24 has empowered me to practice God’s anger management plan. I’m learning to stay calm and quiet, so I can hear what my loved ones’ words loud enough to see what is in their heart. I’m also learning to let God settle the score His way.

Please know that this is no fairy tale happily ever after. Carrying my cross to follow Jesus does not come naturally. Whatever we focus on becomes larger, so I deliberately and intentionally lock my thoughts on God’s Word. And I can’t benefit from God’s Word by my own will. There are many days when the power of God’s Word comes only by admitting that the only way to crucify my selfish bent is to ask for God’s help with the current situation.

Every day is a cycle of wins and losses, but I take encouragement in a concept I learned from the practice of mindfulness: The second you realize that you are not in the moment is the same moment that you are. I’ve applied this concept to my walk with God to remind myself that the moment I realize my thoughts have strayed is the same moment that I can choose to run back to Him. I can only regain control after acknowledging that I’m losing it.

Whether you struggle with anger, anxiety, depression, temptation, or any other bondage, I believe you should congratulate yourself every time you realize that you’ve strayed again, because at that moment you are empowered to make better choices. The realization that you are slipping is not an acknowledgment of failure; it’s another chance for victory.

Join the Conversation!

Let’s learn from each other. Tell us how God has helped you deal with anger or another struggle in the comments below.


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22 Comments

  • Reply Heather Hart October 4, 2018 at 8:32 am

    This: “I learned that feeling angry is not a sin, but living in anger is.” So much that. God gave us emotions, but what we do with them is free will. They can lead us to pray or to stew. They can point us to Jesus or to hatred. They can cause us to sin or forgive. Love this post, Victoria!
    Heather Hart recently posted…When My Mama Bear Instincts & Faith CollideMy Profile

  • Reply Victoria Grace October 4, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    When you put that way, it’s a pretty clear, simple choice. Thank you, Heather! I bet we could boil down every negative emotion to a choice between sin or Jesus.
    Victoria Grace recently posted…Follow: A Word Study of Matthew 16:24My Profile

  • Reply Sheila Rhodes October 4, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    I love your raw, authentic words. The book you mentioned sounds great I am a fan of Chip Ingram and appreciate his insight. I love your last line, “The realization that you are slipping is not an acknowledgment of failure; it’s another chance for victory. I’m going to remember that and look for my victories!
    Sheila Rhodes recently posted…Part 2: Hyperparathyroidism and What You Need to KnowMy Profile

  • Reply Victoria Grace October 5, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Hi Sheila, Thank you for your comments. I’m really glad that this was a reminder to look for your victories where you may have not seen them before.
    Victoria Grace recently posted…Follow: A Word Study of Matthew 16:24My Profile

  • Reply tiffany Montgomery October 6, 2018 at 8:05 am

    What a great artical! I know there are days the flesh wins out and my anger comes through – mostly toward my kids. It’s so important to have a heart check with God about it and replace it with His Grace
    tiffany Montgomery recently posted…How to Shop for Christmas All Year and Not Go BrokeMy Profile

    • Reply Victoria Grace October 6, 2018 at 10:09 pm

      Thank you, Tiffany. I agree that kids can certainly push our buttons! Parenting is definitely a role that requires the Grace of God to get from one day to the next.
      Victoria Grace recently posted…Follow: A Word Study of Matthew 16:24My Profile

  • Reply Elaine October 6, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Thank you for these real-life words. I really needed to hear this: “I believe you should congratulate yourself every time you realize that you’ve strayed again because at that moment you are empowered to make better choices.” There is real power in this statement as is so easy to listen to the ‘failure’ label from the enemy.

    • Reply Victoria Grace October 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm

      Hello Elaine, I’m so glad that God used these words to speak to you. We have such a great God, that He can even our failures can turn into a success story.

  • Reply Melinda Viergever Inman October 6, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    This is a great post. That pause of realization is so important. This is good advice, and you offer biblical and practical strategies. I felt this was key: “The Bible repeatedly tells us to deny our selfish passions, and put our sinful nature to death, so we may instead live as Christ instructs us. Our cross is to crucify our selfishness and live by God’s Word.” It’s a daily challenge of relying on Jesus for the ability to overcome our sinful selves by his grace!
    Melinda Viergever Inman recently posted…Why Writers Need to ReadMy Profile

    • Reply Victoria Grace October 6, 2018 at 10:14 pm

      Hello Melinda, Thank you for your comments. That pause has proven to be the single most important thing for me. Biting my tongue and calling on Jesus then give Him the chance to make better choices. His Word is absolutely true and He is infallibly faithful. Every time I call on Him and wait, the situation turns out so much better. It’s so neat to see His Grace in action.
      Victoria Grace recently posted…Follow: A Word Study of Matthew 16:24My Profile

  • Reply Yvonne Morgan October 7, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Great post. We need to be able to talk about our sins so others can understand that Christianity does not mean perfect. I have struggled with anger through the years but with the grace of God, I have improved but it still shows up occasionally especially when I try to take control of things that belong to God

    • Reply Victoria Grace October 7, 2018 at 6:28 pm

      Hi Yvonne, Thank you for your comments. The book I read talked about how feeling out of control is a very common source of anger. It also said that trusting in our ever-faithful God is the answer. I am so grateful that He is always there for us in our imperfections.
      Victoria Grace recently posted…Follow: A Word Study of Matthew 16:24My Profile

  • Reply Stephanie Gammon October 7, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    This is such a good post. I’m very interested in checking out the book you are referencing. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    • Reply Victoria Grace October 7, 2018 at 6:31 pm

      Hi Stephanie, Thank you! The book was a very easy read. It wasn’t preachy or theological and both Chip Ingram and Dr Becca Johnson related their own struggles. It was very helpful to see that even known spiritual leaders struggle just like the rest of us. I pray that God will use it to bless you as He did me.
      Victoria Grace recently posted…Follow: A Word Study of Matthew 16:24My Profile

  • Reply Chip Mattis October 7, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    I’m glad you posted this, Heather. I too am a Christian who struggles with anger. It’s funny actually, how completely irrational my anger habits are. I get angry at shoes for being in my way. It’s absurd.
    First, thanks for the validation.
    Second, I appreciate this–Whatever we focus on becomes larger, so I deliberately and intentionally lock my thoughts on God’s Word. This is truth. I need God’s words deep down to fight my flesh response. Thanks for the great post, Heather.
    Chip Mattis recently posted…Jesus is for losersMy Profile

    • Reply Victoria Grace October 7, 2018 at 6:58 pm

      You’re very welcome, Chip. I know the absurdity of my anger frustrates my family sometimes too, and then I’m ashamed of myself later. I learned that this is more common than we like to admit, because silly types of anger responses were also discussed in the book, along with ways to turn to God for help. The main thing I remember was the idea that this type of anger stems from the idea that we want everything to be perfect and we get frustrated when it’s not.

      I also remember the authors conveying the idea that- who do you think you are to assume that your life must be perfect at all times…? Jesus’ life wasn’t perfect, and none of us deserve better than what the Son of God had…

      Reading that part was really kind of a smack-upside-the-head experience for me. A little dose of humility was exactly what I needed. Most of the book wasn’t in-your-face like this, but there certainly were moments of conviction.

      By the way- one of my pet peeves is my family leaving their shoes at the door, blocking the walkway to the living room. Most of the time, I just pick them up and put them away, but some days it still drives me nuts when I trip over them!

      Good luck to you, Friend!
      Victoria Grace recently posted…Follow: A Word Study of Matthew 16:24My Profile

  • Reply Joy Bryant October 7, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    I have had anger issues most of my life, until God took them away from me when I was 23. It was at a Beth Moore Conference for Missionary Women in the Philippines, and the Lord miraculously healed me! I had been praying for years about it, and I didn’t want to take it into a marriage someday. Ironically (or actually God ordained), I met the man I was going to marry the same weekend!

    • Reply Victoria Grace October 7, 2018 at 8:00 pm

      Hi Joy, thank you for sharing that amazing testimony! It sounds like an amazing story and I wish I could hear it. God’s healing and the timing are so incredible! Beth Moore is certainly an incredibly anointed woman, and her Bible studies studies have helped so many people. She’s from Green Bay, WI- just like me!
      Victoria Grace recently posted…Follow: A Word Study of Matthew 16:24My Profile

  • Reply Kathleen Bailey October 9, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I deal with anger issues too but they are inwardly focused. I don’t blow up at other people very much, I internalize it to the point of harming myself to release the anger. I’ve not read the book you mentioned but I like the advice you shared and I’ve been doing something similar and I’ve gotten better.
    Kathleen Bailey recently posted…I’m Not So Bad, Everyone Sins.. Right?My Profile

    • Reply Victoria Grace October 9, 2018 at 6:56 pm

      Hi Bailey, Thank you for sharing. I’m really glad that some of what I shared was helpful for you. The book did touch a little on inward anger but was more focused on outward. I’m glad to hear that you’ve found some relief from the inward anger. I pray that God continues to bring you closer to Him and lead you to people and resources to fully heal you.
      Victoria Grace recently posted…Follow: A Word Study of Matthew 16:24My Profile

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