What’s eating you? Most of the time I talk about what you are eating, but this question is perhaps even more important.
What is the thing that is bugging the daylights out of you? What makes you angry every time you encounter it? What throws you off course and causes you to at least cuss like a sailor in your head whether you actually say it or not?
My dad would say, “He about lost his religion over that.” Interpretation for most people: He almost cussed. My interpretation: Getting angry is not godly.
Getting angry, if you lash out at others, cause undo hurt and anguish, say things out of anger and not to make the situation better, verbally or physically hurt someone or yourself, is, of course, not godly.
What’s Eating Jesus?
That is definitely something Jesus would ever do. There was, however, something that was eating at Jesus. It made sense to his disciple after they saw His uncharacteristic display of anger at overthrowing the money changers tables in driving them out of the temple with a whip. His disciples were probably whispering among themselves, “What’s eating Jesus today?”
Then His disciples remembered a scripture that put everything into perspective. It said, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”1 So, that’s what was eating Jesus!
It was the fact that those who were supposed to be God-fearing were actually far away from loving and worshiping God. They were making a mockery of His house. It makes most of the things that upset us seem miniscule in comparison. Anger has it place when it fuels a passion to do something about injustice in the world.
What’s Eating Me?
For some reason, this question has been tugging at me for the last few days. What is eating me? What really bugs me?
I know when I had a real issue with food, whatever would make me upset I would stuff down with food because I certainly didn’t want to “lose my religion.” Dad wouldn’t like that.
Some of those things were injustices that needed to be addressed by me simply forgiving people in my past who caused them. It did me a world of good to just say, “I forgive _____________ for ____________________.” I didn’t do that for way too many years down the road. I kept it inside and stuffed that anger down with always more “comfort” food to anesthetize the anger.
One doesn’t have to go confront someone to forgive them. Most of the time the other person isn’t even aware they’ve done something wrong. Many times, they aren’t even in our lives any more and yet we carry around anger at them.
How Do You Deal With Anger?
That anger usually comes out in one of two ways: anger at ourselves or those we love.
The anger at ourselves looks like any number of self-injurious behaviors. They might be overeating, smoking, drinking, cutting, doing drugs, engaging in adulterous sexual activities, pornography or many other harmful things. It’s eating at us and so we do something to try to silence it.
When it comes out as anger against those we love most it tends to either look like yelling and screaming, hitting, giving the silent treatment, controlling, bullying, manipulating and any other of things we would classify as demeaning if we saw someone else doing it to a spouse or child.
When we try so hard not to be angry, we actually make ourselves more angry than we know what to do with. So how do we deal with it appropriately.
Tell the Truth
Paul had some advise on this topic. “What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.”2
There are several great pieces of advice here.
First, be honest. If you are angry at someone, let them know. Speak the truth in love.3 By doing this, we act more like adults than small children. Confrontation and honesty is not easy, but it is necessary for solid, authentic relationships.
Second, don’t lie to others. We really do know when someone isn’t telling the truth and that just fuels anger. If we are all part of each other, it is the same as lying to ourselves. We can put a positive spin on the situation, but we still need to be honest.
Third, don’t let the anger seethe within you, boil over and cause a big mess. Do something with it quickly. Going to bed with a little anger will only grow into a bigger anger the more you toss and turn.
Finally, know that it is all right to be angry, just direct it constructively. Being angry is being honest with yourself. I am angry about this because. Get to know yourself better and understand why you are angry.
What’s the root cause of the anger? It may not be the actual presenting situation. It may go back much further than that. Ask God to reveal to you the first time something like this happened and then forgive the person that caused that situation. Realize that person might be you.
Is it something you can do something about? You can’t change what happened, however, maybe you can take up a cause to prevent a similar injustice from happening to others. Your life mission can evolve out of whatever has been eating you the most!
Just look at Jesus. His life mission evolved out of the fact that those who were supposed to be godly didn’t have a heart for God. He gave His life to make a way so that mankind didn’t have to follow rules and regulations any more. We could just follow after love. We could just follow Him.
If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for you! Find what is eating you and give yourself to it with everything you’ve got.
The things you’ve been using to stuff that anger will be useless. The anger you feel won’t be eating you any more, it will be driving you with a zeal and a passion you didn’t know existed.
Here’s What’s Eating Me
I mentioned this question has been bugging me for the last few days. I could say nothing eats me any more, but that is really not true. What eats at me is seeing people who are struggling with issues that are eating them. It eats at me to see them feel like they have no way out of their difficulties.
It eats at me to see you not connect to the only One who can help you through whatever you are going through. Instead of being consumed with anger, I’m letting it fuel things I’m writing and sharing with others. In my small way I hope that is helping those who were at the place I was at 10 years ago.
I hope and pray some will connect with the God of the universe and understand He does have a plan for our good and not for our disaster.4 He really does.
I’d like to hear, what’s eating you?
1 John 14:17, NKJV
2 Ephesians 4:25-27, MSG
3 Ephesians 4:14-16, NKJV
4 Jeremiah 29:11, NLT
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.