MISTER KITTY!!

Ninety-nine percent of the time I really, really enjoy my Kitty. I love it when he jumps up on the piano bench and curls his fat body next to me as I’m playing a song. I love it when he greets me first thing in the morning by rubbing up against my legs.

But, sometimes he makes me mad. Like the times he throws up his kitty food on the carpet. Or when he scratches on my door in the middle of the night and wakes me up. And then there’s his awful kitty breath . . . (why on earth hasn’t someone created kitty toothpaste by now?!).

All that to say, if you heard this “sweet girl” (that’s me!) angrily raising her voice and saying “NO!” to Kitty, you wouldn’t think I was so sweet. When I raise my voice like that, I’m reminded of just how much yuckiness there really is inside me. And then, I think about the future, and how if God ever gives me the gift of a husband and kids, I’ll often be tempted to raise my voice at them like that . . .

So, crazy as it sounds, I often tell my kitty I’m sorry. I don’t want to get in the habit of yelling at others, even if it’s only my cat!

Can you relate? If so, what’s to be done? Short of moving to a planet with no kitties, people, or other irritations, what’s to be done about this anger spewing out of us?

First, I think we need to see and agree with God about our anger. Anger isn’t just some uncontrollable but understandable reaction to an annoying cat or toddler. Anger is a sin that stems from deep inside us. In Jesus’ words: “The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:18-19). 

I picked up a little booklet titled “Anger” by David Powlison to help me learn more about what we can do about our anger. The solution to anger—as to all sin—is so simple that it can almost sound a bit disappointing: “turn away from sin to God’s grace in repentant faith.”

To help us do this, David Powlison provides some really helpful questions to ask ourselves in order to assess our anger:

1. What is my situation? (Mr. Kitty just threw up on my living room floor.)
2. How do I react? (I raise my voice in anger at Mr. Kitty and let him know that I am not happy with him.)
3. What are my motives? (I don’t want to have to deal with others’ messes; I want life to operate the way I want it to. Sure, I want grace from others when I make a mistake, but I don’t want to extend it to others—including Mr. Kitty.)
4. What are the consequences? (My relationship with Kitty is strained; I am no longer joyful; I feel physical tension in my body.)

David Powlison continues with some questions that will move us toward repentance and resolution by God’s grace:

5. What is true? (God is here with me and is in control of this situation. He is accomplishing His main purpose for me, which is to make me like Jesus. This same Jesus forgives my sin of anger, restores me to peace with God, and provides me with the power to be different.)
6. How can I turn to God for help? (Confess my sin of selfish anger to God, ask forgiveness, believe the Gospel, and ask for wisdom and power to respond with His love.) 
7. How should I respond in this situation to glorify God? (Take a deep breath, relax, clean up Mr. Kitty’s mess, thank God for the companion Mr. Kitty is to me—and for the reminder that I’m not the center of the universe. Thank God that He cleaned up my mess of sin for me!)
8. What are the consequences of faith and obedience? (God has kept me from sin; I’ve learned valuable lessons about seeing sin as God sees it, confessing it to Him, and turning from it. I have peace instead of anxiety.)

My little scenario with Kitty is silly, in a way. The stakes and consequences aren’t as far-reaching as when I respond in anger to a person. But hopefully this little exercise gives you an idea of what to do the next time you’re so angry you explode.

How about you? Where are you seeing ugliness coming out—even if it doesn’t seem that important? How can you repent of it whenever you respond in anger?

Anyone else want to try this little exercise? Whether it’s here or in your journal, think about the last time you were angry, and then—using these questions—process how you could’ve turned from anger to God’s grace in repentant faith . . .

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula Marsteller

Paula has served with Revive Our Hearts for thirteen years. She is the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom. There's nothing she loves to share more than the gospel-centered truths that have so transformed her own life: what it means on a daily basis to be "dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus." Paula, Trevor, and their son, Iren, make their home in New York.