Our granddaughter, Claire, turns a bright shade of red, the same as her parent’s living room sofa, when she is crying for her next feeding or a diaper change.
I think she’s adorable when she gets angry, probably because I like feisty girls. And probably because I wish I was one of them. Instead, when thing aren’t going my way, I weep and whine.
My daughter and I got tickled several times when Claire balled up her fists and held her breath until her lips turned bluish because she was so mad about her wet diaper.
When Claire hit her mom’s chest with a clinched fist during feeding time, we guessed she was annoyed about not getting her milk fast enough.
Too soon, though, she’ll grow up. And too soon, we’ll tell her anger is unacceptable even though, for now, it’s keeping her fed and changed.
We’ll talk to her about her tone of voice, not getting an attitude, and the expression on her face. She’ll raise her hip and put her hand on it. We’ll tell her to stop. If she speaks her mind, chances are she’ll be labeled.
As a result of messages like these, for years I denied my anger. It wasn’t until I talked timidly to a friend about being furious with God that I was able to get in touch with the feeling. She said, “God gave you that emotion. I’m sure he can handle it.”
I felt freer each time I told God all the things that angered me about how he ran the universe and my life. I wrote my grievances down and blamed most of them on him. I spewed on paper what I would never say out loud. I even cursed a little. Okay, a lot.
Instead of God’s punishment for my anger, I experienced relief.
Instead of his rage in response to my anger, I experienced our restored relationship.
Observing Claire’s anger makes me think it is time to weep less and wail more. Not that I think allowing her to be disrespectful is a good parenting practice, or that I think it’s okay for me to go around screeching at people to get my way, but I do believe there is purpose in anger.
After all, Jesus turned over tables in the temple, God’s wrath is recorded, and the newborn he recently placed in our family is getting nourishment and care because of her angry outbursts.
I’m exploring anger, and I would appreciate hearing what you have to say.
WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – This post brings to mind what I heard a speaker say in her talk about emotions, “Our anger lets us know it is time to set boundaries for others, that it’s time to stand up for ourselves.” Maybe it is.
On the side: The number of negative quotes about anger surprised me. It unquestionably has a bad reputation.