January 16, 2017
You’ve had it! You tried ignoring the issue, but the irritation has turned into anger and now you need to deal with it. At this point you have choices. You can head down a non-productive road with your anger or you can do something productive with it. Yelling and screaming falls into the non-productive category. The silent treatment while fuming on the inside is also non-productive and can lead to a later explosion. So let’s head down a productive road and explore seven possible ways to deal with anger in a positive way.
- Pour your Angry Energy into Positive Action
If we can turn our energy in new direction and pour our thoughts and efforts into something positive, we will not only feel encouraged and uplifted but our anger will significantly dwindle. What do I mean by doing something positive? Choose a productive, positive activity that will give you some sense of accomplishment or satisfaction, and possibly work toward a solution.
When we turn our eyes toward doing a fresh positive activity, it takes that energy we want to pour into our anger and re-focuses it for a good cause. Doing something positive and productive lifts our spirit, especially if we are lifting others up along the way. We always feel better about ourselves and our situation when we reach down to lend a helping hand or bless someone else.
Recently the news reported a story of a bride-to-be who found out one week before her wedding that her fiancé was being quite unfaithful. The wedding was painfully called off, but all the brides’ family had already reserved and paid for the wedding reception and food. The family decided to take the negative situation and make it into a positive. They chose two charities they wanted to support and invited guests to come to the reception which was now turned into a fund raising banquet. What a beautiful picture of turning the energy of anger and hurt into an uplifting blessing for others. Recognize the hurt, and then replace the anger with positive action.[i]
You may find some of the following positive activities can help you work through your angry energy. Consider gardening, painting, writing, scrap-booking, cooking for family or friends, reaching out to a new neighbor, walking, calling an old friend, playing the piano or guitar, locking yourself in the rest room to read a chapter of a book, playing with the kids, coloring with the kids, reading a book to them, taking the kids to a movie, taking the kids to the zoo, visiting a nursing home or invalid friend, writing a note to lift someone else’s day. Just make sure you are not suppressing your anger by turning toward these activities, rather use them as a way to give you time to regain composure and work toward forgiveness.
- Initiate An Honest and Loving Discussion
Never underestimate the power of an honest discussion. It can help build bridges instead of burning them and mend broken relationships instead of allowing them to grow apart. A good heart to heart can smooth out false assumptions built up in our minds and can be a catalyst for positive change. Yes, I think we can all agree that meaningful talk between two people can help transform some of our ugly anger into a beautiful peace. Generally it is not the discussion that is difficult for us; it is the aspect of being loving and gracious during the discussion that seems to be the challenge.
I hate to admit it but women can be the worst when it comes to initiating an honest and loving discussion. When someone makes us angry (whether it is our spouse, the in-laws or a school teacher) our first reaction is to go tell our friends and acquaintances about our grievances. Now that does a lot of good, doesn’t it? Instead of moving toward a productive solution, we repeat our frustration over and over again and our anger festers and grows. The last thing on our mind is to discuss the issue with the person who has irritated or hurt us. The funny part is the anger is eating us up inside every time we repeat it, while the other person has no idea we are even having a problem with them.
Imagine the positive potential if we simply initiated a calm discussion with the person who has angered us. There would be less gossip and more productivity; less bitterness and more loving-kindness. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”[ii] Paul recognizes that we are going to get angry, but instead of holding onto it and spreading it around, Paul is saying go to your neighbor and speak truthfully with him. Do it soon, don’t let it fester for days on end and become a huge issue. When we let things linger we give the devil a foothold to destroy relationships and reputations.
Paul went on in his letter to tell how to have a good, honest and loving discussion, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.”[iii] How do we get rid of the bitterness, rage and anger? We can begin by having a kind, compassionate discussion with the goal of benefiting the hearer.
Is there someone you need to call or meet with today? Why not put down this book right now and contact the person toward whom you feel anger? Ask the Lord to help you stay calm, respectful and loving as you approach the person. Seek God’s help to examine your own heart before you confront another. Also ask the Lord to allow the other person to be open to the discussion, and then leave the results in God’s hands. You are not in charge of his or her response; you are simply responsible for sharing your concern lovingly and honestly. Try to work toward a positive solution, but remember there are times when you must agree to disagree. Most importantly, please stop sharing your grievances about the person with others; it is only destructive.
- Journal your Emotions
Journaling offers the opportunity to get your thoughts out of your head and on to paper. Your journal is a private place to pour out of your heart. Journaling helps us recognize and release much of the stuff tangled up within our hearts and minds; even rumblings we didn’t realize were there. If you are continually dealing with anger, it is helpful to set aside a short time each day to write in your journal, so that it becomes a habit or routine. Use your journal to write out prayers from your heart or wisdom you have learned throughout the day. Allow your thoughts and feelings to emerge, and don’t worry about grammar or spelling or neatness.
Write out your angry emotions. Try to identify what is making you angry whether it is a reoccurring situation that needs to be changed or someone or something that has hurt you in the past. Explore through your writing if there is something still eating at you from the past. Ask God to help surface the core of your hurt, pain and anger. As you write you may recognize that you need to talk with someone (a mentor or a counselor) about your anger and frustrations from the past in order to work through the past and move on. If you notice you are rehashing the same old stuff over and over again, then you need to begin finding resolution through communication or change. Do not continue to revel in the same angry issue and caudle or nurse your wounds. Recognize the hurt, choose to forgive, make changes and move on.
- Find an Alternative Plan
Sarah’s husband just couldn’t seem to be on time for anything. When they met for lunch, he always arrived 15 minutes late. When she flew back into town from visiting relatives, she was typically the last person at the baggage claim area. There were many times they had to take separate cars to church because he wasn’t ready. He would eventually arrive at each destination; it just wasn’t at the right time. After numerous discussions and feeble attempts to change his ways Sarah finally realized no matter how hard he tried, her husband wasn’t going to miraculously start arriving on time. Sarah had a choice. She could stew and boil over every time he was late, or she could recognize the frustration of the situation, and choose to make it into some sort of positive.
Sarah came up with a good solution. She loved to read, so she kept a good book with her at all times. When she found herself waiting for her husband, Sarah pulled out the book and caught up on some reading. She actually came to a point of hoping her husband would be late so she could finish another chapter. Sarah made a conscious decision to not allow her husband’s habit of being late to take control over her emotions. In her case she recognized this wasn’t an issue worth getting worked up over, so she decided to stop focusing on his problem and see the situation from a new perspective.
When we are angry we get our focus fixed on the irritant. A healthy expression of anger can be to take our eyes off the irritant and place our eyes on creative solutions. Generally speaking there is an alternate way to work out most issues in a productive way. Take little steps in a new direction. If you can’t seem to see any alternatives, then talk to a trusted friend. Ask them to help you brainstorm new and better solutions, then stop your bellyaching and move forward trying out an alternative plan.
- Write a Letter
If there is a person who raises your dander, then write him or her a letter. Hold on now, I didn’t say send the letter, I just said to write it. I strongly suggest you don’t send the first draft of the angry letter you write. Actually the letter is for your benefit more than the recipient’s. Get out a pen and paper and write down exactly what you would like to say to the person with whom you are angry. Let it pour out. Allow the issues which make you irate to flow from your heart and into the pen and onto the paper.
Now go back and highlight what you consider to be the central issue or what is at the core of your anger toward this person. Can you identify one, maybe two things that are the hub of your anger? Now I want to ask you to do something beyond your ability. I want you to pray for the Lord to help you forgive the person with whom you have issue. I know you may not be able to do this in your own strength and power, but God can help you begin to change your heart. Remember that we are all sinners and fellow strugglers in this journey. We are all recipients of God’s mercy and grace. Coming to the place of forgiveness may take time, so be gentle with yourself.
If you still feel a need to express some of the issues in your letter, then I want you to write a new letter. One that is gracious and compassionate and will benefit the person who will receive the letter. Hold the letter for several days just to pray through and think through whether you should send it. You may find the passion of your anger has dissipated and you want to write and even gentler letter or send nothing at all. You may also realize the best way to deliver the letter is in person, so you can read the letter to the person. Often it helps to read the letter aloud, so you can keep the facts straight as well as guard against emotions. You will find the benefit of writing a letter allows you an opportunity to surface underlying bitterness and decide if the issue is worth addressing or forgiving and moving forward.
- Physically Work it Out
You’ve got angry energy. Work it out of your system through a brisk walk or jog around the neighborhood or a hearty aerobics tape at home. Often for me a walk can help clear my thoughts, regain composure and work off the stress I’ve been carrying around in my body. When my kids were young I put them in the stroller and took them with me; other times I would wait until the evening when my husband could watch the kids. There are also many work-out facilities available which offer day care. Explore your options. You may find it helpful to call a friend and create a plan where she can watch the kids for you while you take a walk or jog, and visa versa.
A consistent exercise program can improve our mood and help reduce stress levels. The Better Health channel reports, “Physical exertion burns up stress chemicals, and it also boosts production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters in the brain, such as endorphins and catecholamines.” [iv] These are some of the “feel good” hormones in your brain. You know yourself best, so choose an exercise routine that works with your schedule and your family responsibilities. Make a plan now; don’t wait until it conveniently works into your schedule or it probably won’t happen. Regular exercise is good preventative medicine to help you keep your anger in check.
- Talk to a Third Party (friend, mentor or counselor)
Sometimes we just need to gush. We need to pour out our hearts with a person who will listen and help us sort through the anger or potential anger brewing in our heart. That person may be a close friend, a relative, a mentor or a Biblically based counselor. Unless you have a very unique and sensitive husband, I would suggest that you may not want to vent to him. The reason I say that is because often a husband is too close to the situation, he is not quite as feelings-oriented and you may grow even more frustrated if he doesn’t seem to understand. It is best to find a woman with whom you can trust to hear you and give you a Godly perspective. Talking to a friend can help us gain as to if our anger is really worth it.
Mentors have been a blessing in my life. I particularly look for women who are mature in Godly wisdom, and with whom I can relate. Right now in my life I have several women who I know I can call to ask for prayer and advice. We don’t necessarily meet on a regular basis, but get together now and then for coffee and spiritual encouragement. Where do you find a mentor? Begin with prayer, asking the Lord to bring someone into your life. Your church or local Bible study may be a good place to find that new and helpful relationship. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a godly woman you respect and ask her if she would pray about beginning a mentoring relationship.
Friends and relatives can also offer wonderful means of support through times when we feel overwhelmed and full of anger. Perhaps a friend who has kids around the same age could be a good source of encouragement. Get the kids together to play while you talk through some of the issues on your heart. Again, sisters and friends can help us gain a fresh perspective on things, and sometimes our anger is softened just through the fact that someone has listened to us. Pent up frustrations can lead to explosions, but simply telling another listening ear can help disarm some of those time bombs. I know in the early years of motherhood it may be difficult to get out of the house or be on the phone to talk with other mothers and friends. Consider joining a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group or Hearts at Home or Early Childhood PTA group to find a connection with other mothers in your area.
There may be a time when you feel overcome with anger to the point you want to seek professional help. I would encourage you to see your doctor or find a Biblically based counselor
[ii] Ephesians 4:25 – 27 NIV
[iii] Ephesians 4:29 – 32 NIV
This is an excerpt from Karol’s book Defuse, A Mom’s Survival Guide to More Love, Less Anger. For more insight in dealing with anger and handling life in a positive way, click here to check out several of Karol’s books.
January 9, 2017
As moms it is easy to want to step in and try to solve all of our kids problems or protect them from difficulties. Yet we may be doing more harm than good when we protect our kids from every challenge. Here is a selection from one of my favorite devotionals, Streams in the Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles Cowman. It offers a wonderful reminder to us a moms to be patient and allow God to do His work in our children’s lives….
I kept for nearly a year the flask-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth. It is very peculiar in its construction. A narrow opening is left in the neck of the flask, through which the perfect insect forces its way, so that a forsaken cocoon is as entire as one still tenanted, no rupture of the interlacing fibers having taken place. The great disproportion between the means of egress and the size of the imprisoned insect makes one wonder how the exit is ever accomplished at all — and it never is without great labor and difficulty. It is supposed that the pressure to which the moth’s body is subjected in passing through such a narrow opening is a provision of nature for forcing the juices into the vessels of the wings, these being less developed at the period of emerging from the chrysalis than they are in other insects.
I happened to witness the first efforts of my prisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. During a whole forenoon, from time to time, I watched it patiently striving and struggling to get out. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. Very probably the confining fibers were drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter on its native heather, as nature meant it to be. At all events I thought I was wiser and more
compassionate than its Maker, and I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a very little easier, and lo! immediately, and with perfect case, out crawled my moth dragging a huge swollen body and little shrivelled wings. In vain I watched to see that marvelous process of expansion in which these silently and swiftly develop before one’s eyes; and as I traced the exquisite spots and markings of divers colors which were all there in miniature, I longed to see these assume their due proportions and the creature to appear in all its perfect beauty, as it is, in truth, one of the loveliest of its kind. But I looked in vain. My false tenderness had proved its ruin. It never was anything but a stunted abortion, crawling painfully through that brief life which it should have spent flying through the air on rainbow wings.
I have thought of it often, often, when watching with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress; and I would fain cut short the discipline and give deliverance. Short-sighted man! How know I that one of these pangs or groans could be spared? The far-sighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink from present, transient suffering. Our Father’s love is too true to be weak. Because He loves His children, He chastises them that they may be partakers of His holiness. With this glorious end in view, He spares not for their crying. Made perfect through sufferings, as the Elder Brother was, the sons of God are trained up to obedience and brought to glory through much tribulation.
–Tract, Streams in the Desert
“For I consider our present sufferings not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
This story and many more practical examples for moms can be found in Karol’s book, The Power of a Positive Mom. Click Here to order your autographed copy.
January 2, 2017
A positive mom is not a perfect mom. In fact, a positive mom takes the picture of perfection off the wall, tears it up and throws it away, knowing that…
…Life isn’t perfect.
…Kids aren’t perfect.
…Spouses aren’t perfect.
…And mom, herself is not perfect.
We have a perfect God, who gives us strength in our weakness and offers to lead us and guides us. As we approach the new year, it is a wonderful time to consider some mommy improvements. We can always get better! We may not like our attitudes and actions from the past year, but with God’s help we can make positive new changes each year. Here are three questions to get us on a new path:
- In what areas do I need to improve my attitude from last year?
- What character qualities do I want to teach my kids this year?
- Who are some positive moms I can get to know this year?
I like to keep it simple. Just think about these three questions as you begin the new year, and ask the Lord to guide you in how this can be a better year than last year. Ultimately, as positive moms, we want to glorify God in our attitudes and actions. Remember you are not alone as you pursue these “mommy improvements.” You have a heavenly Father who loves you and has a purposeful plan for your life. May this be a beautiful year of loving Him and loving your family in a deeper and more meaningful way.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
- The Apostle Paul
December 26, 2016
As a mom, I always love the day after Christmas. The pressure if off – no more wrapping, going to programs, baking, shopping or addressing Christmas cards. It is all finished for the year! Yeah! Honestly, it’s sad to say that we are glad that Christmas is over, but as much as we want Christmas to be all about Jesus, the reality is that it ends up being about everything else. The good news is that we can continue to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas throughout the year. This week especially, between Christmas and New Years, offers the opportunity to draw near to Him and regain our focus. As the kids enjoy their new toys, at least for a few days, I encourage you to take some time to pray, play and prepare for the new year.
Pray – Take time to pray and reflect on the Lord’s goodness and His care for your family. Pray for each of your kids and God’s purposes for their lives. Pray for their spiritual growth and for them to grow to be champions for Christ. Take some time to cast your cares on the Lord, and give over to Him those things that make you anxious. Our strength and guidance as moms is often born in those times of quiet reflection with Him.
Play – The pace of this week allows for more time to focus in our kids. Don’t just send them into the other room so you can get your stuff done. Use this as a week to deliberately play with your kids. Get on the floor and play house, build blocks or create fortresses. Read together, get out in the yard and play catch together, or simply enjoy a board game together. Don’t miss out on this perfect time of the year to build connection and loving communication with your kids.
Prepare – Think about the new year and what you would like for your family in the coming year. What about more dinner times together? Or how about a new activity you can do together as a family? What about some places you want to visit in your city or your state? Perhaps there is a Bible verse you want to memorize together as a family or a service project you want to do together. If you don’t make a plan, it most likely won’t happen, so prepare for the year by prayerfully thinking through a few things you want to do as a family to make positive steps forward in the new year.
I hope you have a great 2017, and may God bless you with His strength, hope and peace.
December 12, 2016
If you are like me, you wear yourself out trying to find the “perfect” gifts for everyone on your list. As Christmas fast approaches, I want to suggest a few gifts that will never disappoint. Add them to your list this year and encourage your kids to do the same. They won’t drain your bank account, but can open doors, renew relationships and brighten your life.
Encouragement: The word “encourage” means to give strength. The root word “cour” comes from the Latin word “heart.” When we use our words to honestly encourage those around us, we are giving strength to their heart. Yet so often our critical spirit emerges, and we drain people of their strength by constantly nit-picking and correcting. Let’s choose to look for opportunities to strengthen others through our words throughout this holiday season. Use phrases like, “I’m so thankful for the way…”“I was so blessed when you…” “You are so good at…” Give the gift of encouragement and watch the joy begin to rise up inside of your heart.
Forgiveness: Who do you need to give the gift of forgiveness to this year? Is there something you have been holding over another person? A bad memory? A grudge? A disappointment? A deep hurt? Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it brings great joy (to you as well as the forgiven one – maybe more so to you). Forgiveness doesn’t mean you are becoming a doormat and inviting people to walk all over you. It is releasing the right to hold something over another person. Has the Lord forgiven you of all your sins? If you are a follower of Christ, He certainly has! Then we must recognize we have no right to hold an offense over someone else. Ask the Lord to help you forgive those whom you feel as though you just can’t forgive. Then stop playing the “I am hurt” tape over and over in your brain. Release the anger, let go of the bitterness and experience His joy.
Love and Compassion: A true, pure love is patient and kind. It bears with the other person and does not get easily angered. So let’s be honest, true love is not easy especially toward those who are slightly annoying and difficult. Granted it is easy to love those who love us and those who are easy to get along with, but the Bible encourages us to love our enemies. I’m thinking that includes a lot of difficult people as well. When we choose to reach out in love toward others, a joy wells up inside of us. Hatred and unkindness drain us of our strength and rob us of our joy. If you want to experience a deep and abiding joy, ask the Lord to help you love everyone around you, not just the easy-to-love people. Reach out to people beyond your comfort zone and touch them with your compassion, grace and kindness.
Remind your kids about the joy which comes from these three gifts. I encourage you to decorate three boxes and share with your kids (one each night) about the importance of these gifts. Talk about practical ways to give these gifts to their family and friends throughout December and all year long. The wise men brought three gifts to Jesus, and certainly we would be wise to bring these three gifts to others throughout our life. They are not easy gifts to give, but they remind us of our humble need for God’s grace, power and strength each day.
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