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Allowing anger

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  • Allowing anger

    I'm posting this here because I'm looking for a strictly Christian response, preferably with Biblical support.

    Long story short, with the help of a Christian therapist I'm trying to allow myself to be angry with my emotionally abusive mother so that I can ultimately forgive her. I tried forgiving her for everything in general but that didn't work. Due to my upbringing -- I was not allowed to be angry with my mom, ever, and repressed my anger, hurt, etc. in order to survive -- I have an incredibly hard time allowing myself to be angry. I hate being angry, partly because it reminds me of being like my mom. I feel guilty for being angry due to my upbringing and all the passages that talk about getting rid of malice and wrath, etc. But stuffing the anger down leads to self-hate and depression.

    So what I'm looking for is a Biblically-based argument that it is okay in my situation to let myself be angry, that I can let those feelings out in an appropriate way (e.g. writing a letter no one else will read) and not keep stuffing them down.

    This is what I have so far:

    God gets angry at sin. What my mom did was wrong and was therefore sin and it's appropriate to be angry about it.

    There is a time to hate/be angry (Ecc 3)

  • #2
    Jesus was angry as well (such as when he saw the money changers in the temple). And he didn't simply allow it to fester; he used his anger as a motivation to do something positive (ridding the temple of the money changers). It seems like you're already planning on likewise using yours as a means to do something positive (forgive your mother).
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
      I'm posting this here because I'm looking for a strictly Christian response, preferably with Biblical support.

      Long story short, with the help of a Christian therapist I'm trying to allow myself to be angry with my emotionally abusive mother so that I can ultimately forgive her. I tried forgiving her for everything in general but that didn't work. Due to my upbringing -- I was not allowed to be angry with my mom, ever, and repressed my anger, hurt, etc. in order to survive -- I have an incredibly hard time allowing myself to be angry. I hate being angry, partly because it reminds me of being like my mom. I feel guilty for being angry due to my upbringing and all the passages that talk about getting rid of malice and wrath, etc. But stuffing the anger down leads to self-hate and depression.

      So what I'm looking for is a Biblically-based argument that it is okay in my situation to let myself be angry, that I can let those feelings out in an appropriate way (e.g. writing a letter no one else will read) and not keep stuffing them down.

      This is what I have so far:

      God gets angry at sin. What my mom did was wrong and was therefore sin and it's appropriate to be angry about it.

      There is a time to hate/be angry (Ecc 3)
      Actually I think so far you are on the right track. And truthfully, there is a such thing as "righteous anger." Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26–27. So you are perfectly justified to get angry. Believe it or not, I've been in that situation and walked in your shoes. I had to survive so I "faded out" I stopped having emotion, and let everything happen. I had to learn that even to hate a person and wish they did not exist was ok. That did not mean I would want to kill them or injure them, I just wanted them to never exist so what happened to me would not have happened. I think it took a couple years, for me to even just be able to be ok with the fact that they were living too. I don't think I sinned by being angry, I don't think I sinned by not wanting them to exist, they hurt me. badly. So.....Its ok. Just remember in the end, you'll never be ok with what they did, but you'll forgive them. YOu just have to be angry first. Yeah thats ok too. YOu may even have to hate them, then just hate what they did. You'll eventually learn to give that to the Lord. That's great. I think God understands it. You can hate what someone does, you can even hate who they were. YOu can be angry. you can rant rave and cuss. and then? you can forgive. The only prohibition is acting out on sinful desires. Anger is good. Anger is Healthy. Anger can teach us not to sin. Have at it.
      A happy family is but an earlier heaven.
      George Bernard Shaw

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      • #4
        Hope you get it resolved.
        If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks everyone. I can always use more input though.

          Originally posted by Catholicity View Post
          YOu may even have to hate them, then just hate what they did. You'll eventually learn to give that to the Lord. That's great. I think God understands it. You can hate what someone does, you can even hate who they were. YOu can be angry. you can rant rave and cuss. and then? you can forgive. The only prohibition is acting out on sinful desires. Anger is good. Anger is Healthy. Anger can teach us not to sin. Have at it.
          This is probably part of my issues. My therapist told me that (deep down) I despise my mother. And I suppose he's probably right, but I'm always fighting against that. Long story short again, I was taught throughout my life to be grateful to my mother, not only for good things but for some of the bad things. I was responsible for keeping her happy and part of that meant reassuring her that I loved her. Most people who knew her thought she was a great person (they only saw one side of her) and my dad emphasized over and over that I had to be patient with her because she had been abused. In other words, the world around me reinforced that I should love my mom and had no reason for hating her. So, again, I feel guilty for hating her to any extent.

          Other thoughts on whether hating someone, even temporarily, is allowed?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
            I'm posting this here because I'm looking for a strictly Christian response, preferably with Biblical support. Long story short, with the help of a Christian therapist I'm trying to allow myself to be angry with my emotionally abusive mother so that I can ultimately forgive her. I tried forgiving her for everything in general but that didn't work. Due to my upbringing -- I was not allowed to be angry with my mom, ever, and repressed my anger, hurt, etc. in order to survive -- I have an incredibly hard time allowing myself to be angry. I hate being angry, partly because it reminds me of being like my mom. I feel guilty for being angry due to my upbringing and all the passages that talk about getting rid of malice and wrath, etc. But stuffing the anger down leads to self-hate and depression.

            So what I'm looking for is a Biblically-based argument that it is okay in my situation to let myself be angry, that I can let those feelings out in an appropriate way (e.g. writing a letter no one else will read) and not keep stuffing them down.

            This is what I have so far: God gets angry at sin. What my mom did was wrong and was therefore sin and it's appropriate to be angry about it. There is a time to hate/be angry (Ecc 3)
            Can we reframe the question? It's not productive to ask yourself whether it's "OK to be angry" on the way to forgiving your mother. The reality is that you are angry, which is why stuffing the anger only makes things worse. You are angry, and you want to be forgiving. That shows that you are moving in the right direction. Whatever heinous things she may have done, the path forward with you is to strengthen your own faith, to understand your own sin, to comprehend the depth of the forgiveness that God offers in Christ, setting aside his own anger over the terrible offenses you have done against him. That's the kind of maturity toward which we strive, the kind that allows Nate Saint's son to work with the tribesmen who murdered his father. It will probably start with things much smaller than forgiving your mother. How do you respond when people cut you off in traffic? When the lady in front of you in the grocery store line spends five minutes fishing in her voluminous purse for the right credit card? When someone makes an insensitive comment about the way you look today? Forgiveness is a habit that spills over into all areas of life, and pursuing it is non-optional for all Christians.

            Comment


            • #7
              Is it too late for family therapy? Seems like your mom should have gotten herself some help years ago and not taken it out on her daughter! Not an excuse.
              If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

              Comment


              • #8
                God gets angry, so nothing wrong with that. God gets jealous too, nothing wrong with that either. Like sexual desire, it's OK to have so long as we don't pervert it, so anger is the same (Eph. 4:26). I would say to let yourself be angry, say what you want to say and feel what you want to feel without blaspheming or cursing in your heart. Hopefully the Psalms can be some comfort to you. Remember, the authors of the Psalms were quite candid and wished for calamity and death on their enemies, then praised God for his goodness and for being a rock and able to bear their burdens. I'd use that as your rubric. To what extent did the Psalmists express themselves and how did they offer it to God? Do what they did and you should be in the clear.

                Comment


                • #9
                  When I have a lingering resentment I try to think of:

                  Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

                  Matthew 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
                  I think of all the times I messed up and made people angry, and either was forgiven, or not forgiven and wished I was.

                  I also had anger toward my parents, but when I became one I found that I made a lot of the same mistakes. For me, looking at myself takes away a lot of the anger I have for others. It's not excusing their wrongs, but it helps me forgive and place judgment in God's hands.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                    Can we reframe the question? It's not productive to ask yourself whether it's "OK to be angry" on the way to forgiving your mother. The reality is that you are angry, which is why stuffing the anger only makes things worse.
                    Actually, "Is it okay to be angry?" is still the question I need to answer. I'm trying to do cognitive behavior therapy here. Consciously, on an intellectual level, I can tell you that I'm angry but repressing it, that I ought to let it out and then forgive, etc. Subconsciously, on an emotional level, I keep repressing the anger before I even consciously become angry. I wake up in the morning hating myself without knowing why and I have to work to get to the point of realizing I'm angry. CBT is a way of rewiring the "automatic thoughts" that my subconsciousness has that cause me to hate myself and repress the anger. I have to convince myself on an emotional level that it's okay to be angry -- I have to counter the thoughts that say I'm a bad daughter, etc. if I'm angry with my mother. I can't progress with forgiveness when I'm having trouble allowing myself to feel angry and hurt and get at the specifics of what I need to forgive.

                    How do you respond when people cut you off in traffic? When the lady in front of you in the grocery store line spends five minutes fishing in her voluminous purse for the right credit card? When someone makes an insensitive comment about the way you look today? Forgiveness is a habit that spills over into all areas of life, and pursuing it is non-optional for all Christians.
                    I agree that forgiveness is not optional for Christians. I believe I'm generally patient with people who cut me off, keep me waiting, etc. People throughout my life have remarked on my patience and calmness. I'm definitely not perfect in this area, but I do try to be understanding and forgive people.
                    Last edited by Kind Debater; 02-03-2014, 08:36 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Christianbookworm View Post
                      Is it too late for family therapy?
                      Yes, my mom died last year. We were in family therapy for a time and it had started to help a little, but repairing our relationship would have taken many years. She had borderline personality disorder and would never be completely "better".

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kind Debater View Post
                        Yes, my mom died last year. We were in family therapy for a time and it had started to help a little, but repairing our relationship would have taken many years. She had borderline personality disorder and would never be completely "better".
                        Oh... I'm sorry. That's gotta be rough.
                        If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by nico View Post
                          God gets angry, so nothing wrong with that. God gets jealous too, nothing wrong with that either. Like sexual desire, it's OK to have so long as we don't pervert it, so anger is the same (Eph. 4:26).
                          Eph. 4:26 quotes Psalm 4:4, "In your anger do not sin." What qualifies as sin as far as angry feelings (i.e. not putting it into action)?

                          Hopefully the Psalms can be some comfort to you. Remember, the authors of the Psalms were quite candid and wished for calamity and death on their enemies, then praised God for his goodness and for being a rock and able to bear their burdens. I'd use that as your rubric. To what extent did the Psalmists express themselves and how did they offer it to God? Do what they did and you should be in the clear.
                          Thanks. I had kinda thought of that, but on the other hand the psalmists can get pretty extreme and I'm not sure that everything they said was really "approved" anger. E.g. Ps 137:8-9, Ps 139:21-22.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
                            I think of all the times I messed up and made people angry, and either was forgiven, or not forgiven and wished I was.

                            I also had anger toward my parents, but when I became one I found that I made a lot of the same mistakes. For me, looking at myself takes away a lot of the anger I have for others. It's not excusing their wrongs, but it helps me forgive and place judgment in God's hands.
                            Thanks, that's good advice on forgiveness, and those are things I try to do. But in the case of my mother, I was taught to empathize with her, excuse her, forgive her, etc. but that being angry with her was wrong, regardless of what she did. When you are taught that from the time you are small throughout your childhood and into adulthood, you end up with what my therapist calls "emotional programming," and it's that programming that I have to get rid of so that I can make progress with recognizing what she did wrong and then forgiving it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Christianbookworm View Post
                              Oh... I'm sorry. That's gotta be rough.
                              Thanks. It's a lot better than it could be. Long story short, I realized some things before she died such that I was okay with her passing when she did. I really believe that it was God's perfect timing. A close, healthy relationship between us simply wasn't possible due to her disorder.

                              Comment

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