Taming The Red Dragon

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a blog written by Jennifer Lynn

What makes you really angry? Not irritable or frustrated but actually full out, cartoon steam whistle, you better run type of angry? If I’m honest, I don’t get that type of angry very often. I get impatient, irritable or frustrated easily depending on the situation but it actually takes quite a bit to get me to the “code red” level. There are a couple of things though that do get me there. Being lied to is one. It makes my blood boil. Not to mention I will never trust you again if you ever lie to me. Another biggie, messing with people that I love, especially if I’m not in a position to do anything about it. Feeling helpless in those types of situations is the worst and gets me riled up. In these moments it can be really hard for me to bite my tongue or to not take matters into my own hands the way I think they should be. 

Over this past year I have really been tested in this area. Like, a lot. I’ll give you the “coles notes” version here but if you want the whole story you can visit JenniferLynn.net and catch up there. 

To make a long story short, my two children (both boys) went to go and live with their father and his new wife back in November 2017. The problem is that it was done without my knowledge or consent. They went to visit him for the weekend as usual and then on the friday night I got a phone call from my ex husband stating that “The boys want to live with me, they won’t be coming home. I have spoken to my lawyer and I am acting within my rights.” Talk about a sucker punch to the gut. I was devastated. Not to mention that because “apparently” my boys were in on it, I felt betrayed, lied to, hurt and once the dust settled, that full out, cartoon steam whistle, you better run type of angry. Because of the boys’ ages (teenagers) nothing could be done on the legal side of things and so I had no choice but to let them go, for now. As if taking my children out from under me wasn’t enough, he had the audacity to serve me with court papers trying to get out of paying the full amount of back child support he is still owing for the last 10 years. So now, we’re in the middle of a pretty ugly court battle. I don’t get to see my children much anymore either. My mama heart has pretty much been destroyed.

The damage that has been caused by this whole thing is just totally gross and it’s been really difficult to reign in everything that I’ve been feeling. But I also know that it isn’t healthy to keep it all bottled up either. It’s been a learning process (mostly trial and error)  in finding a balance between expressing what I’m feeling without crossing that line. Because ultimately anger is not wrong. It’s not a sin to be angry. It’s a natural human emotion to be angry. Even Jesus got angry. He told people off, called people names and even flipped tables in the temple! Every time I read that in the Bible, I’m thinking, hey, how come Jesus gets to flip tables and call people names but if I do that I’d probably get slapped with a restraining order or a hefty fine or maybe even some jail time. I wanna flip tables too (among other things) Not fair! Argh, why is life so hard?!  

I’ve definitely lost my cool on a number of occasions this past year and allowed myself to get suckered into allowing my anger to get the best of me. But to be fair I’ve also “bitten my tongue” and held back quite a lot too that I’m surprised I’m still able to speak at all. Hey, if you all knew the things I didn’t say or didn’t do, you’d give me a lot of credit. I deserve a medal for this level of self control that I’m on. 

The thing with anger is that, at it’s very root, is fear. Fear of not getting our way. Fear of not being able to control the situation. Fear of being misunderstood or taken advantage of. Fear of justice not being served. And while it is perfectly natural to be angry at injustice or when someone deeply hurts us, healthy anger should actually drive us toward change. It should compel us to action (and not the violent, unlawful kind!). The kind of action that really makes a difference rather than simply making the situation much worse than it already probably is. Sometimes that means simply biting our tongue and waiting until we’re calm enough to make a rational decision. Sometimes that means walking away and putting space between yourself and a person or a situation to gift yourself peace of mind. And sometimes that means biding your time and strategizing, making a well thought out plan that is effective in the long run rather than acting upon your temporary urges. Which, if we’re honest, we all know that temporary urges and rage rarely ever lead to wise decision making. 

I’ve learned that life is far too short to hold onto anger. I’ve learned that allowing uncontrolled, unfiltered anger to speak through you causes more damage than healing and rarely gets the results that are needed in the long run. I’ve had to rewire my brain to the point where I begin to think, even when I’m beyond angry, that God sees it and is still in control. That when I let go of anger, I can embrace trust. Trust is the opposite of fear. Trust is faith. Faith in a Sovereign God who IS in control even when I feel that I am not. Faith that He is directing my path, even when it gets cloudy and all I see is red. Faith in a God who is also angry at injustice and will have the final say in each and every situation. 

What am I saying exactly? Be angry. Be EFFECTIVELY angry. Chanel it towards change. Towards freedom. Towards peace. There is a bigger picture in the making that we cannot see quite yet and the end result is far more valuable than possibly squandering it away because of a momentary lapse.