I had a young man come into my office recently who showed signs of intense anger. As we talked about what was bothering him, it became obvious that his anger had very deep roots. For his homework, I asked him to make a list of everyone that had hurt him in his life. He came back several days later with his list. “This list was difficult to write everyone down. I remember being bullied in elementary school and I am just waiting for the opportunity to get them back.” As I listened to him recount the things that had happened in his life, I began to understand why his anger was so deep. He had held a grudge toward everyone that had hurt him in any way and he was just waiting for the right time to start getting pay backs. How many of you have felt that way before? You just couldn’t wait to get someone back for hurting you. I can remember feeling that way many years ago. The main problem with those feelings is that the person who does the hurting has long since forgotten the event and you are the one that is still being controlled by those negative feelings. As I told this man, “you are holding on to something that happened more than twenty years ago.” The offender has totally forgotten the situation and possibly has forgotten you. So what do you do about these feelings of desiring revenge? How do you overcome them? How do you heal from the hurt so that your anger can heal?
- Acknowledge the hurt. What happened that created the sense of hurt in your life? Who was the perpetrator? Write it all down.
- Identify any false beliefs that you might have. What do you believe about yourself based on that event? You want to identify any negative beliefs such as “I’m a loser” or “I’m worthless.”
- Replace the false beliefs with The Truth of God’s Word. I am a child of God. I am a friend of God. I am redeemed. There are so many more, but these create a good starting spot.
- Understand that it is God’s place for vengeance. Romans 12:19 tells us that it is God’s place to get revenge because of His perfect anger. Our revenge is not motivated by love or holiness where God’s is.
- Confess your sinfulness of wanting revenge. Understand that wanting to hurt someone because they hurt you is a sin.
- Forgive the offender. By forgiving the offender, you are releasing your desire to get revenge. You are also choosing to let go of the negative feelings associated with the event. By forgiving the offender, you are trusting God to do what He desires in the offender’s life.
Anger is a cancer that will continue to eat its way through your body and destroy you if you do not take action to release it. Revenge will not release the anger. It might satisfy it for a short while, but the anger will continue to burn within you. Learning to forgive and to allow God to do His work will bring about a peace that cannot be explained in human terms. That peace will lead to joy in your life.
What would you add to these steps of working through your anger? How have you turned things over to God for His healing?
Directed Path Ministries
After spending more than 25 years on church staffs, God has allowed me to take the experiences and knowledge that I gained to develop a Biblical Counseling ministry. The basis of this ministry is to allow God’s Word to shine on the main issues in peoples’ lives in order to bring His resolutions to problems.