One of the Biggest Hindrances to Healing
Can we hinder our own healing? We sure can. There are many things that can block the process, but one of the biggest things that will prevent us from accessing the provision God gave us for our healing and restoration is anger.
Anger is what has been referred to as a guardian emotion. When we feel hurt or vulnerable and we do not want to get run over by “weaker” emotions, we may choose anger. Our anger may seem to be so automatic that it doesn’t appear to be a choice, but I’ve seen people choose to put anger aside for a moment and allow themselves to dig deeper into what their anger is covering up. It’s important for our healing that we recognize that anger can be a learned behaviour or a more socially acceptable emotion than crying.
What does Anger Do for Us?
Anger does many things for us. Anger covers our vulnerabilities when we feel threatened. It makes us appear stronger and tougher than we feel. It masks the fear we are feeling and gives us a sense of personal control over a given situation. Anger can be expressed both actively through outbursts of angry words and violence or passively through distancing, ignoring and punishing silence.
Most psychologists now agree that anger is a symptom of wounds people carry. Without going into the many books on the subject of passive and active forms of anger, suffice it to say, they are well known among the hurting. Anger allows us to blame someone else for the pain we feel and removes us from any responsibility.
There is a common phrase I’ve seen in recent months: “Hurting people hurt people”. If we use anger as a way of dealing with our pain, we may well be managing our pain but in the end, it doesn’t help us heal. Anger will hurt us and those closest to us in a perpetual cycle of negativity that prevents us from healing.
The Bible says, Eph. 4:26, “Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” Righteous anger is a legitimate emotion, but it is a rare thing among us mortals. Righteous anger is not about us. It is about what offends God and hurts others. Anger hinders healing and personal relationships when used as a coverup or reaction for offenses or hurts.
In our anger we are often blame shifting. Sometimes we judge others for things they said when it is not what they said at all but what we think they meant. God is the only one who knows the whole truth, understands motive and sees every side of an incident. It is not uncommon to be angry when we have been wronged, but prolonged anger leads to bitterness which can be hazardous to our personal health and relationships. Bitterness also does not lead to healing but rather can destroy more and more in our lives.
Using the anger we feel as a signpost to help us turn to the healing process can make the emotion useful rather than harmful. The Holy Spirit can help us to control our reactions to anger when we ask Him to grow the fruit of self-control into our lives.
Putting Anger Aside
In many of the healing prayer sessions I’ve had with others the presenting emotion is anger. I will ask them if they are willing to put it aside for the moment because anger focusses on another person rather than oneself. What we are looking for is what’s behind the anger so that the recipient of prayer can find healing. When they get their healing, anger is no longer needed to protect them.
Sometimes we can simply put anger into an imaginary basket for the time being. Sometimes we have to find out what they think might happen if they give it up. Then we look for truth to deal with that so that we can move on.
I believe that if you are willing to put aside your anger for a short period of time, you too will find healing for yourself. When you gain healing, you are able to make room for some of the more positive things in your life, like love.
1 Corinthians 13:5 says about love, “It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” It is a wonderful thing when we can love like this. Healing our hearts can lead to love that gives without pain.