Continued from here.
In my last blog entry, I shared a simple example of how to put out the fire of anger. Unfortunately, people are rarely simple, so we must go deeper to get to the root of our anger and put it out. My cousin and I have a shorthand saying for this: It’s not about the chocolate.
My cousin and I traveled to Europe with a tour group. For our last day in Switzerland, we had the morning to buy souvenirs and then spent the afternoon atop Mt. Pilatus. Of course, many people bought Swiss chocolate, which they left on the bus while we visited Mt. Pilatus. The day was warmer than expected, so some of the chocolate melted. On the surface, getting angry about melted chocolate seems silly, but my cousin knew the back story of one of the travelers and pointed out that her anger was “not about the chocolate,” hence our shorthand saying.
Often, our anger is not about the precipitating issue. Instead, the current (often trivial) issue triggers a deeper reaction to something in our lives that we have not yet given over to God to heal. Until we heal the deeper issue, seemingly trivial issues will continue to trigger our deep-seated anger, causing the people around us to draw conclusions about us that might be way off base.
This is a common dynamic for child abuse survivors. They carry around anger from being abused as children that was unsafe to express at the time the abuse happened. They lock the anger away, but it’s always simmering beneath the surface. Then, when their chocolate melts (or something else happens to trigger their irritation), they react out of proportion to the surface-level trigger. As they choose to allow a small opening to vent their frustration over melted chocolate, the pent up anger from years of child abuse also pushes its way out, causing them to come across as “overreacting” to melted chocolate when they are really expressing legitimate anger toward past pain that was never processed.
If you find yourself repeatedly “overreacting” to trivial life annoyances, you might have repressed anger that needs to be dealt with. Thankfully, you have a God who understands the real source of your anger, and He’s waiting for you to invite Him in to heal it.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace frowning over the word, “Bummer.” Courtesy Bitmoji.]