Depression can be a funny term. When I realized I was suffering from depression, I didn’t think I had the classic symptoms – not wanting to get out of bed, crying all the time, feeling sad constantly. My most noticeable symptom was anger, and then guilt over how I reacted to that anger. Before learning more about this mental illness, I would have never placed “anger” and “depression” in the same category.
The anger I felt and displayed was over some of the smallest issues. Our son throwing his plate of food on the floor for the 27th time that day. My husband not cleaning up his dirty dishes from the living room. Our middle spilling grape juice on the kitchen floor leaving a sticky mess. Really silly things.
Then there were some major things that made me angry. Our oldest as a 2 month old infant, crying constantly, and me not knowing at all what to do. Finding out that “friends” of ours at our church had said some very personal, hurtful things about my husband. Angry with myself for not being responsible with our money and it affecting our whole family’s lifestyle. Whether I experienced anger over the small things or the major things, I still experienced it. And I had no idea how to handle it.
My counselor explained to me that anger is not good or bad. It’s what you do with it that is good or bad. For instance, if I were to throw the TV out the window because I was angry, that would be bad. He even talked with my husband a bit about how to help me deal with my anger in a healthy way. He explained that anger will come out, one way or the other. He told me he preferred I didn’t throw appliances out the window, BUT he did say if that was the only way for it to come out, then so be it. Anger is much more dangerous being left inside, to fester and grow, causing you to become a bitter, miserable person.
So am I suggesting that if you’re angry you go home and begin to throw things, slam doors, kick the cat, or punch a hole in the wall? Absolutely not! I tried some of those things and ended up no happier than I was. In fact, I felt guilt over how I reacted. And guilt can take a terrible toll on you too. Anger must be dealt with in a healthy way.
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Meeting with my counselor, I learned that my anger stemmed from my un-forgiveness toward my father. At that time, I had over 3o years of anger built up that had to be released. The best way to release is to talk about it. It could take days, weeks, or months before you get all the anger out. For me, most of this occurred during my counseling sessions, but my husband was also supportive and helped out too. It was hard for him, because of the way I had treated him all those years, but he was willing to do anything to help me become a person filled with joy.
During my sessions, I was also taught there is such a thing as righteous anger. Jesus displayed righteous anger. You can read about how he was angry with those selling animals at the temple. And if you’ve ever read how He spoke to the Pharisees, it would be obvious to you that He was angry with them.
My counselor suggested that I direct my anger toward Satan. He was the one who wanted my destruction, and was using my anger to do just that – destroy my family and myself. You and I, as believers and followers of Christ, have authority to tell Satan to go back to hell and leave our families alone! I know as Christians we do not use that power enough. Some of you don’t even realize you have it. And Satan likes it that way. I didn’t realize it until someone showed me in God’s Word.
Releasing anger by talking about it, and exercising the authority we have over Satan, was not enough. I needed to fill my heart and my mind with God’s Word. Ephesians talks about how God renews our minds, and He does that by allowing us to learn about Him through His Word. To grow closer to Him through binding His truth to our hearts. I struggle with this area to this very day – learning and believing the truth of God. I feel like I can never read the Bible enough, and I often have to recite scripture to myself in order to fight off the negative thoughts and feelings of guilt, anger, and self-pity.
To sum up, there were 3 things that helped me with my battle with anger:
Releasing it in a healthy manner.
Using the authority I have as a follower of Christ and telling Satan to go back to hell and leave me and my family alone.
Learning God’s Word and allowing His Truth to permeate my heart and my mind.
For those of you struggling with anger, I hope this helps. I know for me it felt like a cage I was in, that I could never escape. But remember, there is hope. There is always hope in Jesus. Choose one of these areas to begin working on. Find a trusted friend, counselor, or pastor, that can help you work through this issue.
I’ll leave you with this verse from Exodus 34: 5-7
Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The Lord passed in front of Moses calling out: “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.”
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Follow along as Samantha shares her story, exploring three foundational truths she learned during her years of Biblical counseling. These three truths found in God’s Word, have helped her experience joy while living with depression.
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