Tip of the Iceberg
James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
Icebergs are giant pieces of ice floating in the ocean. But what we can see with our eyes is just a tiny part of what lies beneath the surface. Anger is like an iceberg – we can easily see the tip, but it isn’t easy to see the underlying emotions. Our anger often stems from other emotions such as envy, fear, frustration, and disappointment. So, essentially, anger is a secondary response to a primary emotion.
What should we do when we start to feel that familiar surge of raw emotion swirling inside? Today’s verse gives us two tools to help: show self-control and listen well. What does it mean to show self-control? Press pause, breathe, and ask: “What is this really about?” How do I listen well? Stop crafting reactions and responses in your head. Listen to the other person and try to see from their perspective. And, listen to God. What is He showing you? What does He want you to do?
Don’t let the secondary emotion of anger cloud the real issue. When you deal with the emotions below the surface, you’ll find that the anger above the surface dissipates.
Time for an anger audit. Write out the things you are angry about. Next to each one, write out what the real issue is. Now that you have clarity, take steps to resolve the real issues at hand.
Dear God, help me to realize what is really behind my anger. Help me to press pause, listen to others, and seek Your perspective before reacting. In Jesus’ name, Amen.