Recognizing that anger is a natural, normal, and honorable response to injustice, mean-spiritedness, and wrongdoing is important. The Veteran’s wife, Kristina, mentioned in the introduction to this booklet had grown up in a home where anger was not openly expressed. Maybe you can relate to some of the following words of frustration expressed by this young wife in relation to her husband’s hurtful behavior.
As Kristina nervously sat down in my office, she seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as she stated, “Chaplain, thank you for meeting with me. I really need help and I do not know what to do.”
“How can I help you?”
“I simply can’t live anymore with Kevin’s unpredictable and unexplainable outbursts of rage. It is so scary. I have never lived with someone who is so angry. I grew up in a home where we did not express our anger, and I cannot remember my parents losing their temper. This is so new for me as Kevin never displayed such extreme anger prior to his deployment.”
Tears began to well-up in Kristina’s eyes and I handed her a box of tissues. “Kristina, can you tell me what is most scary about your husband’s anger?”
“Well, it is frightening to find myself married to someone who is no longer the gentle, very attentive, and sensitive man that I married. Plus, it is also distressing for me when I find myself incensed at someone that I want to love. Kevin’s anger is scary because it also stirs up angry feelings in me.”
“And it is difficult for you to express and confront this anger?”
“Oh, yes! I have believed that good people do not lose their temper and display anger. I hold my feelings inside, and try not to react when I’m hurt. Yet, I am really tired of hurting. I outwardly pretend that things are fine which only intensifies the pain inside of me.”
“It is exhausting to try and keep all those painful emotions inside of you.”
“Yes, although I feel guilty when I talk about Kevin’s behavior. I still love him. I wonder if I am to blame for his angry outbursts.”
“So, you feel guilty for Kevin’s anger? I would think that would be very burdensome.”
Kristina nodded and collapsed back into the soft cushioned chair in my office. As tears trickled down her cheeks, there was a wave of exhaustion that seemed to roll from her shoulders at trying to always appear pleasant, cheerful, and kind. As we continued to talk that day, Kristina began to see that she was in no way to blame for her husband’s uncontrolled outbursts.
Perhaps you also have struggled to express your anger. Maybe you have kept pent-up feelings of anger deep inside of you that have been eating away at you, robbing you of peace, and destroying your health. Unaddressed feelings of hurt and anger will not go unnoticed in our bodies and will negatively impact our well-being. As Kristina learned, there absolutely are unjust behaviors which should infuriate us and must not be tolerated.
God is a defender and a protector of those who are oppressed. We read in Scripture how God executes justice for those who are downtrodden. If you have been hurt or are being hurt by someone, please seek help. Like Kristina, you may need to express your anger in a manner which calls for the constructive change of another person’s aggressive behavior.