When you are in an unexpected life-transition, chances are very good that you will have to deal with anger in some way, shape, or form. Those transitions that hit us hardest are usually associated with something we love or enjoy.
Some work-related examples:
- The leader you’ve been reporting to, one you’ve had a good working relationship with, announces she is leaving the organization.
- Our CEO has announced a restructuring. The position you’ve held for 15 years has been eliminated.
- Your closest friend and co-worker tells you they’re quitting. They can no longer tolerate working for our autocratic and disrespectful leader. You’ll be losing an ally when your friend leaves.
Each of these unexpected transitions is about the loss of something loved: a leader, a job, or a co-worker.
However, most of us don’t like to think of ourselves as angry. We visualize someone who has lost control, screaming and hollering at someone or something. Yet, the dictionary definition of anger is simply: “A strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism.”
When you lose something you love, you will have “a strong feeling of displeasure” at the loss you’ve just experienced. What you may not realize is that most of the transitions you will experience in life are unplanned.
We like to think we can plan and control our future, but we can’t. Life just happens. And in those unexpected transitions, God grows us. It also means we’re going to be dealing with anger more than we’d like to admit in the future.
Here are some things I’ve learned.
Bottling up your anger doesn’t work.
You must let your anger out. The best person to share it with is God. He’s ready for it. “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).
It’s the “how” that depends on what works best for you. Some of you will want to close the door, scream, and cry to God. That’s okay!
Some of you will want to write your deepest and most angry thoughts in a journal, giving them to God that way. That’s good too! Give it up and get it out.
Anger can work as a mask.
Sometimes anger is covering up something else that’s going on inside us. In doing so, it keeps us from moving on.
For example: What if you lost your job? You could be very angry at your former employer because they took away a job you loved. But the longer you stay angry, the longer it will keep you from facing a couple of realities.
First, your job is gone, and no amount of anger can bring it back. This can be scary because it may have been years since you last looked for a new position.
The second is this: you may have to consider that your actions contributed in some way to your unemployment. There is more than one side at play here. Maybe you need to confess your fears or your past actions.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1: 8-9
If you’ve lost something you love, give your anger over to God. If you’re still holding on to your anger, ask yourself if it’s masking a reality you need to face.
Ask God to help for help! He’s there to give you wisdom and comfort, whatever transition you may be going through.
What have you learned about anger? How do you deal with it? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Dale Kreienkamp is a keynote speaker, Human Resources consultant, and the author of How Long, O Lord, How Long? Devotions for the Unemployed and Those Who Love Them. He has experienced a personal journey of unemployment twice when both positions were eliminated in organizational restructuring. These personal experiences created a desire within him to help others impacted by unemployment through inspirational devotions. Dale is also an active volunteer at his home church and leader in his local community.