Have you seen those shirts or mugs that say “Mama Bear” on them? That describes me well. We just watched a documentary about the animals in Yellowstone National Park, and there is a moment when a male black bear strays too close to a few cubs. Male bears will kill cubs, so the mama bear went after him with a fury. She was smaller than the male, but he ran away immediately, knowing he couldn’t mess with her. I felt a great bond with that mom. I have two daughters, and if someone disrespects them or insults them, I get furious. There have been times where my “mama bear” protection of my girls has gotten the best of me, though. There have been a few moments where I jumped before assessing the situation and have regretted it afterwards. Now, I find that asking a few questions first can save me from having to apologize later.
More often than not, we can get angry about something without stopping to think of where the other person might be coming from. Sometimes we are completely reading the situation wrong, and the offender had no idea what they were doing or saying was unkind. Other times we go at the issue demanding justice rather than attempting to get to the heart of it. When we do have a reason to be angry, what do we do with that anger? Do we let it burst out of us in ugly words or ugly faces? It is so very hard, but we need to communicate lovingly and gently what we are feeling.
There is a reason there are quite a few verses in the Bible that speak about controlling our anger, or not being quick to anger. Our human nature jumps to anger in so many different situations. Have you ever yelled at a coffee table when you stubbed your toe or hit your shin? Like the coffee table was out to get you? Have you ever gotten angry at the rain when you had plans for a sunny day? Anger can be our go-to emotion if we do not get control of it. A tiny frustration can become a volcano of anger, if we do not hold it in check. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” No one wants to be considered a fool, and yet when we explode in anger that is generally how we look to the people around us.
We must ask ourselves what is causing the anger to bubble over. I have written about this before, but it is always something I am working on. If we fill our hearts with love and joy, those things will spill out or, at the very least, keep the anger from festering and then exploding. Think of a volcano. Volcanoes do not go from zero to catastrophe. There are many warnings and signs to pay attention to before the volcano erupts in lava or pyroclastic flow. What are the signs that you exhibit when you are getting close to your breaking point? How can you avoid the eruption or isolate yourself to keep others from getting hurt? Then, when we’re isolated, we need to focus on God and His Word, otherwise we can talk ourselves into a worse situation. Don’t stay angry. Ask God to help you move forward, out of the muck and anger. It is not easy, but with God’s help we can get better at it every day.