Growing up I was a lot like Jo March from Little Women. I would never have admitted it though.
She was brash and whiny, hot-tempered, and enjoyed fun and games over practical domestic ideas.
I always said I was like Beth growing up but I finally came to terms with my likeness to Jo sometime after I became a mother and saw the broadway play where I felt Jo finally had some redeeming value.
We all want to know that our character flaws, once having tasted the Refiner’s fire of struggle and deliverance, would come out OK in the end, with a little polishing.
(Or a lot in my case).
Because truth be told, Jo was a hot mess.
When I finally saw the play as a young adult, I was actually at the age where temperament is starting to buffer and soften up and I could see the hope for not only Jo but me too.
Sometimes it’s hard to see our flaws right in the thick of things, isn’t it? If you, like me, have a temper at least from time to time, you know how hard it can be to admit it.
Some of you would even go as far as to say “I never get angry.” But as I’ve come to realize as I’ve embraced acknowledging both my strengths and my weaknesses, anger isn’t always a bad thing.
In fact, anger is a warning sign that something is wrong in your life that needs attention.
Healthy anger gives opportunity for justice, which often needs to be exercised.
Healthy anger also doesn’t give resentment a foothold. When you address anger firmly and with godly love, it has a far better outcome than stonewalling (withdrawing) which can be a leading cause of divorce (Gottman Institute).
Healthy anger leads to projects that are meaningful and courageous. It leads to action when it needs to and in many cases, saves couples, families, and individuals from their own demise whereas pretending things are perfect leaves them resentful, bitter, and ripe for temptation.
And yet, anger must be managed. Saying only what is good for edification (guidance, teaching) means our anger does not always need a confrontational outlet. Everything doesn’t need to be a teaching moment.
Many times we need to allow God to take care of things within us when we are angry. Especially those of us who are passionate (hand raised!) and could be starting fires wherever we went some days!
How can you tell if it’s time for a healthy confrontation where you address your anger and let it burn with justice…
Versus learning to simmer down, to take it to God, to cry it out, or to just write an imaginary letter or text to someone who needs to hear it?
This will vary by personality type a bit. Those who enjoy conflict and are used to it may find their anger has a healthy outlet on a daily basis, while those who avoid conflict at all costs may need to voice their concerns only about weekly and in small ways. Here’s a general guideline for managing your anger.
When it causes unforgiveness in your heart at someone, take it to God right away. Sometimes the other person doesn’t have to know, it depends on the issue. Remember, a soft answer turns away wrath and you don’t have to engage in battles constantly just because you “feel” upset.
When it causes bitterness in your heart, take it to God right away. If it change the way you relate to another person and they are in your family, take it to them too.
When you see an unhealthy pattern developing in your relationship or in the heart of your child, take it to a person after you take it to God right away. If it’s a child, set a consequence in most cases and then offer forgiveness. Do not shame the child, just the act. With a spouse, have a heart to heart. Wait for the timing to be right, don’t let your temper get the best of you in the moment if you’re in public or have to depart, the kids are right there, etc.
When you know the person you are in conflict with won’t change and or/is abusive, take it to God and a trusted or wise mentor to process.
As for me, my kids and spouse know I STILL have my Jo March moments, but truthfully, I am now less like any of the four little women and a LOT more like their mother who acknowledges having had uncontrolled anger as a child and sees God’s hand in softening her over the years. Besides temper tantrums never really worked with my mom anyway and they certainly haven’t earned me love tokens in marriage although I tried a bit that first year especially!
And now down the road I can admit my likeness to Jo more and also admit that while I don’t always love the passionate anger when it burns, I love having a vibrant personality in other ways. It’s a trade-off and I am willing to continue to let God work on me on the harder parts of my personality still.
So join me in keeping up that GROWTH!
Whatever your weakness is, ask God to mend it. He PROMISES that in our weakness, if we humbly admit it, His power can be magnified! 🙂
Along with me today, take a look and see what God has already done to help you through the Refiner’s fire of your character development so that you can be mature and complete, not lacking in anything (James 1:4).
Love Living Life Intentionally With You,
Christa and the Reflections Staff