I guess nouthetic counselors aren't the only ones giving homework for people who struggle with anger these days. If God's solutions seem too shallow, consider these "life-changing" options I found on an anger management website (my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek):
- Say, “I’m going to scream.” Then do it. Make angry sounds but eliminate words that might hurt others.
- Shake your whole body, starting with your feet and work up to your head.
- Do an angry dance.
- Play angry notes on the piano.
- Pull weeds with vigor saying “I’m so mad!” with each pull.
- Throw marshmallows into the sink and yell a karate type yell as you throw them.
C.S. Lewis, who was a master at describing human sinfulness—specifically anger—said this in his book Mere Christianity:
Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is? ...If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.
The reason the world's ideas for battling anger are insufficient is because the world fails to recognize the source of anger. It is a lot easier to blame your sin on stress or the provocation of your enemy (or your spouse) than it is to confess that you want something more than you want to please God. The epistle of James makes the source of anger very clear:
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world's hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:1-4)
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Homework: Write down five times in the next week when you are tempted to become angry but choose instead to respond with a kind act of service.
Homework: Make a list of the top five situations where you often find yourself getting angry. Identify each of these situations that are being caused because you have failed to seek a solution to the problem. Write down the way you are determined to respond that next time the problem arises.
Homework: Write down episodes when you had an angry outburst. What were you thinking? What were you wanting? What were you worshiping?