I’m driving down a street near my house. It’s a 35 mile per hour, double yellow line, “constantly frequented by cops with radar” kind of road. I look up in my rear view mirror and there’s a car so close I can see the spinach from lunch in the driver’s teeth. I’m doing 40. I ain’t getting’ a ticket because this dude is in a hurry. And I don’t appreciate him risking my car and my safety by following so closely. So I maintain my speed and he loses it. He stomps the accelerator and screams by me, passing me on the double yellow and flipping me the bird as he goes by. I mean this is an angry dude!
Anxiety comes from unmet expectations. When people or God or circumstances don’t do what I think he/she/they should, I become anxious, unhappy, frustrated, sad or maybe even a little depressed.
But when I really expect something; when I demand it and it doesn’t happen, then I’m angry.
The guy driving behind me expected me to speed up, riding my bumper to express himself. But then his expectation became a demand, and his anxiety became anger. He acted irrationally and dangerously, all because he couldn’t manage his expectations and ultimately, his demands.
Most of the angry people I know have been angry for a long time. There’s an undercurrent. I walk on eggshells around them. I never know when something’s going to trip the switch and set them off. Somewhere in their past, they made a demand on God (or someone) and they didn’t come through. They’ve never gotten over it…not really.
So how do we deal with anxiety and anger?
The answer is found in managing our expectations and dropping our demands. We can’t make people or God do what we want, so we have to recognize the expectations and demands we’re setting and learn to manage them.
All meaningful relationships are interdependent. They’re built and fueled by need. It’s healthy to express our needs…to God (that’s called prayer) and to others (that’s called friendship).
Once we learn to express our needs to God and to others, then our tact has to be to trust God and accept what comes. I guarantee you that people will let you down…they will continually fail to meet your expectations. And God isn’t going to give you what you want…He’ll give you what you need, and that often feels like a letdown.
Having expectations is natural. They flash into our minds without any intentionality on our part.
But identifying them for what they are, “processing” them to sort out what’s reasonable, what’s selfish, and what’s totally over the top, that’s where maturity starts to kick in. And when we can take those expectations off and accept what God wants us to have, then we can start to experience peace and contentment.
If there’s someone or something that’s behind your anger, ask yourself “What was my demand?” “Can I drop it now?” “Did I really have the right to make it then?” “Can I trust that God gave me the outcome He wanted me to have, regardless of what the other person did?”
Now you’re getting somewhere.
Question: What demands have you made that led you to anger? Will you trust God to give you what you need?
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