This is the first post of a new series for the Signs-4-Hope blog. I have no idea how many posts there will be in this new series, Our Greatest Faith Builder of All, Parenting. Therefore, it will be labeled which part it is with the mark of … after it, to designate another one will be coming, just like the ongoing So, You Want to Adopt a Deaf Child? series. This new series will cover topics in relation to the training I have received throughout 2014 and early 2015, via TBRI (Trust-based Relational Interventions, Texas Christian University) and NCBP (National Center for Biblical Parenting) and the 30 years of training I continue receiving as a parent of two biological adult children and their spouses. No, my husband Charles, and I do not have any adopted children, as God never called us to adopt. However, He did loan us two biological children to raise for His glory and that has been and is, by far, the greatest faith building opportunity I have experienced as a follower of Christ. My prayer is this series will help parents of adopted and birthed children recognize that in order for us to raise up children to love and follow Christ we must be and must live that example before them, with authenticity and transparency. Our failures and our weaknesses as parents, God can use and will use, IF we allow Him the opportunity to do so.
Anger is a God-given emotion!
My interpreting experiences, over the past several months, have placed me in two counseling groups in our community. One is “Anger Management” and the other “Depression and Anxiety”. I have observed, first-hand, many of the things I have been learning over the past 9 months in my TBRI (Trust-based Relational Interventions) class through Texas Christian University. The overlap between these is really not surprising, but fascinating for me all the same.
Most of these adult folks, men and women, who for the most part, “look normal on the outside” have endured much trauma during their childhood years. Their stories are all too familiar to the stories of the deaf children Signs for Hope loves and serves which include emotional, psychological, physical and sexual abuses. These traumas are in addition to lack of nurture, neglect and abandonment. Things no child, no human being, should have to endure, but the result of the sin of mankind via Adam and Eve. God has allowed me to see, with my own eyes, in these counseling sessions, the consequences of childhood trauma which grows into adulthood trauma, with adult consequences, when left without any interventions. These folks are often uncontrollably violent and some have taken the lives of others when they launch into their emotional tornadoes which engulf others as they tear down their path of destruction. Others are daily haunted from within by depression and/or anxieties. Once again, the tell-tale marks of emotions out of control (fight, flight and/or freeze) and centered in the trauma-brain…the amygdala. Only, now, that trauma-brain resides in the body of an adult.
So often you and I quickly notice anger in those around us that we love, but how often do we miss it when you and I react in anger ourselves? How often is it our own anger triggers an anger-reaction from the ones we love which escalates to a level beyond what it should?
Anger is not a sin, it is a God-given emotion. The Bible tells us to be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26). Jesus, Himself, was angry when He saw His Father’s house being used for monetary gain and not for prayer and worship, its designed purpose. However, His response to that anger, turning over the tables of the money-changers, was not one of sin. Needless to say, I am sure those in the temple, knew without a doubt Jesus was angry and could have done much more than He did. I believe this is one of the greatest examples of meekness in the Scriptures. Meekness is not weakness, but rather it is great power under control. Jesus could have easily destroyed everyone in the temple courts with a simple exhale. He is omnipotent God. Think about it. If Jesus had destroyed them, He would have been justified, but would His justified actions be perceived as being self-controlled or would they have been perceived as being out-of-control? Which made the greater impact for eternity? They had seen His miracles with their own eyes. I believe His anger, under control, cut to their hearts and convicted them of their wrong-doing. It did not trigger an anger-response back at Him, but instead one of complete conviction of their sin and shame for what they were doing.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27
Let’s face it, you and I, all too easily, can instantly react in anger given the right circumstances. We are emotional beings, as God has created us to be, however emotions left uncontrolled can become our demise and can bring with it collateral damage to those around us, those we love. These are not responses of God’s Spirit who is living within us, but rather human reactions that are uncontrolled and have been “triggered” by something. How does this happen so quickly and unexpectedly? Afterwards, we might think, “Where did that come from?” Or maybe, “Did I really say or do that?”.
“For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, His Spirit fills us with power, love, and self control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 TEV)
Becoming MINDFUL of those things that trigger our own reactions to anger is of great benefit, granting us the ability to have self-controlled anger-responses. However, if we never stop long enough to notice or become mindful of what our anger-triggers are, we will continue reacting to them instead of allowing God’s Spirit to help us control our responses to them. If you and I cannot become self-controlled with the help of the Spirit of God, how can we expect those around us, those who live with us, to do so?
|What triggers your anger?|
Unfortunately, it is all too often those we love the most, or at least those we spend the most time with, are whose behaviors seem to irritate us the most. These irritations can easily build up, if they are not dealt with in a timely manner, and turn into a trigger for an outburst of our anger…which most often…is not without sin and its consequences.
However, recognizing our “triggers” which can lead to outbursts of uncontrollable anger give us the chance to “catch them” prior to them snowballing out of control and thus granting us the opportunity to bring them under control. If not recognized, this is when the amygdala sabotages our ability to think rationally and fight, flight and/or freeze becomes our default setting. This is a basic strategy that those in the anger management groups are taught. This is also a basic strategy of the TBRI training for parents and their adopted/fostered children. Withdrawing, if at all possible, from this volatile environment that is primed for failure, is the first step in controlling an unwanted anger reaction. Calming techniques can also be employed to help control the amygdala’s natural response to that first twinge of feeling threatened.
This is not something you and I can truly accomplish apart from the Spirit of God. Being self-controlled is a fruit of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23.
Below are a few great resources for helping us learn more about God’s design for anger and for tools in helping us learn how to resolve our uncontrolled anger problems and then help our children do the same, together.