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From Anger to Peace (outline)

Harvey and Kathy Corwin by Harvey and Kathy Corwin, Marriage and Family Educators

Dealing with unresolved anger and forgiveness

A. The Marital (Relationship) Disease of Unresolved Anger - Be angry, but do not sin. (Eph. 4:26-27)

  • Anger is a common, daily emotion – one we cannot avoid, and should not try to deny or suppress. Anger builds up like plaque in our “love arteries.”
  • It’s an emotion you just cannot bury and forget.
  • It is not sinful to get angry. God expects that we will.
  • Anger is fear, frustration, and hurt feelings coming together.
  • Anger becomes sinful if we hang on to or nurse it while engaging in vengeful behavior toward those with whom we are angry.

B. Four Relational Germs That Develop Into The Disease Of Anger
Four ways – progressive steps – to ruin your marriage due to your anger:

  • Withdraw from your spouse.
  • Escalate and inflame your dispute.
  • Belittle your spouse.
  • Let negative beliefs set in and poison you toward your spouse.

C. The Effects of Unresolved Anger in Life and in Marriage

1. Spiritual: Staying angry extinguishes the light of God in our life – we walk in darkness instead. (John 2: 9-11)

  • The light of God goes out when we stay angry.
  • You start thinking and living in the dark.
  • No Spiritual insight.

2. Emotional:

  • Anger grows into hatred, rage and bitterness.
  • Anger brings addictive habits like drugs, alcohol, food, sex.
  • We can’t figure things out.

3. Physical: Anger increases our risk of heart attack and other diseases.

  • For men, 6 times greater chance of heart attack.
  • 80% of sickness comes from anger.
  • Lowers immune system of the body.
  • Poison is released from the brain when angry.

4. Relational: Anger makes intimacy threatening; feels better to remain distant.

Anger is like a rheostat – it takes the light out of your life and when you forgive and release the other person to God, the light comes back.

Examples:

  • We are in darkness when we haven’t learned how to live. We are not the leader God intends for us to be. Without vision the people perish. An angry leader loses focus of his or her vision. We are less sensitive, (Bill Clinton/Foster Illus.)
  • If we have unresolved anger, we cannot have close relationships.
  • When we provoke our children – they become angry – they live in darkness – they are more tempted.
  • It’s been proven that the majority of prostitutes, male and female are angry with their father.
  • If your children are angry with you – their not going to take your faith, your values – your music – nothing. When they are angry with us they will want to separate themselves from us in every possible way.

D. The terrible fruit: The Epidemic of Modern Divorce.

  • When you divorce it can affect your children for a lifetime.
  • Anger is passed down generation to generation.
  • Research suggests that 80% of 2nd generation divorces are influenced by the unresolved anger of parent’s divorce. Dr. Scott Staily.
  • Dr. Bradley Williams, (Dr. of the Doctors, such as Male Clinic) says 80% of people are sick because of unresolved anger.
  • Men with unresolved anger have six times more heart attacks
  • Forgiving is Christ-like. Jesus was our example and He said, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive or debtors.” Matthew 6:12, 14 & 15
  • We hear of horrible family and personal situations that often involve years of emotional and physical abuse. Certainly there are times when forgiveness seems nearly impossible. When we forgive a person who hurt us deeply and unfairly, we perform a miracle that has no equal. Forgiving has an inner healing beauty to the saddest of pains. Forgiveness is love’s biggest task and risk. Jesus said, if we want to be forgiven, we need to forgive!

When we don’t forgive people, there’s a downward spiral and there are TYPICAL FEELINGS one may experience when they have been wronged:

  • HURT: When someone causes us pain that’s so deep and unfair, we might say with terrible sadness, “How could they do this to me?”
  • ANGER: The beginning of forgiveness is terminating the anger. Understand that anger is a gift to help discover the pain so we can deal with it. When we discover the pain of fear, the pain of betrayal, the pain of guilt, it is then that we will be able to address the cause of pain. Once we have done so, magically the anger begins to fade. Resentful, bitter, hateful people aren’t much fun to be around and certainly don’t bring much to a relationship because they have nothing positive to give.
  • With the passage of time, if we haven’t gotten rid of the anger and forgiven the person, we become RESENTFUL. One of the most dangerous things in life is a resentment that we can justify – something happened to you that anyone agrees with you that it was wrong. The truth is, you are hurting more than them. Lack of forgiveness will eat you alive. It causes many emotional and physical problems.
  • Then we become BITTER.
  • HATE: We cannot shake the memory of how much we were hurt. We want the person who hurt us to suffer as we have suffered.

    HATE is like a cancer eating away at you. Hate is a natural response to any deep and unfair pain. A woman may wish her husband “aids”, or that his new wife would make life miserable for him. But hate needs healing because hate is dangerous and nothing good comes from it. We can hate someone close to us because perhaps they had been a person we trusted. We expected them to be loyal and loving to us but instead they wronged us. Hate is a choice we make within ourselves to either pick up the pieces or let the pieces ruin our lives. We make the choice. The real truth is that the person we hate is not hurt nearly as much as we are. Don’t commit suicide with hate. Excerpts from the book “Forgive & Forget” by Lewis Smedes.

    Have you ever been angry with God? (Tell personal story of hurt to anger to healing – Example - Angry with God when mom died)

    Relate story of Corrie Ten Boom (see hand-out). Corrie ten Boom, one of the greatest heroes of the Christian faith, found herself in a difficult forgiving dilemma. She lost her sister and father in Nazi death camps and nearly lost her own life too. Years after her release she began to publicly speak on the merits of Christian forgiveness, but found her own ability to do so challenged as she confronted a former death house guard while she was speaking at a church….

    “He came to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing, “How grateful I am for your message Fraulein”, he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” His hand thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often about the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. I tried to smile; I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so I breathed a silent prayer, Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness. As I took his hand in mine the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not our forgiveness any more than our goodness that the world’s healing hinges on, but on His. When he tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself!” Corrie ten Boom

Lewis Smedes says that we go through THREE STAGES when we forgive someone and we are adding a fourth:

1. We rediscover the humanity of the person who wronged us.

  • HEALING: We are given the magic eyes to see the person who hurt us in a little different light. We see some circumstances from their position instead of your own. (Story: Relatives-Set up appt. with them to talk.)

2. We surrender our right to get even.

  • We should give up vengeance but not justice. Example: Murder Case

3. We wish that person well.

  • The miracle of healing and forgiving happens when a person feels the pain but yet forgives the other person who opened the wound. We will know that forgiveness has begun when we recall those who hurt us and yet we feel the power to wish them well.

4. We are adding: Peace – Peace that passes all understanding. That’s when you know that you have totally forgiven. It is God’s reward.

Remember the words we started with from Matthew 6:14? Here is what the Bible says about forgiveness: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14

THE IDEA OF COMING TOGETHER: You can invite the person who hurt you back into your life again and if they come honestly, love can move you both to a new and better relationship. Sometimes the other person doesn’t forgive and forget or they don’t want reconciliation so that means you have to be healed alone.

FORGIVING OURSELVES

Sometimes our heart cries out for forgiveness because of the unfair hurt we caused someone else. Like the memory of lying to someone who trusted us or when we neglected someone we loved when they had depended and trusted us, and then we let them down. We don’t have to be a bad person to do bad things. The pain we caused another person becomes the hate we feel for ourselves. We judge and convict ourselves. We sentence ourselves in our hate of ourselves.

Illustration:

Tom had been involved in a fraternity hazing in college, during which there had been a terrible accident. A boy had been killed and Tom could not forgive himself. He married and it lasted 6 years. He went from one job to another. Then after 6 years, he had an awful confrontation with the mother of the boy who had died. She looked him straight in the face and said, “Tom, years ago I found it possible to forgive you. Your friends forgave you, and God forgave you. “Who do you think you are to be the only one unwilling to forgive?” When he finally forgave himself, he was able to change his life. His wife came back and he eventually worked into a fine job. You see an unwillingness to forgive yourself can be self-destructive. There are some people who cannot admit when they did something wrong, because they can’t forgive themselves. If you can’t admit that you did something wrong, then you can’t learn from your mistakes. Nor can you grow. Accept forgiveness. Share forgiveness for those who have wronged you.

Do you have any forgiveness that needs to be dealt with? A parent? A spouse or former spouse? A child? A sister or brother? A friend? Do you want to fix it?

HERE ARE 4 STEPS IF YOU HAVE A FORGIVENESS ISSUE:

1. Die to self. The Bible says in Gal. 5:19, to die to hatred, discord, jealously, fits of rage, selfish ambition, envy, etc. We accomplish that by opening up ourselves to grace. Grace is what kills our foolish pride. Grace is what enables us to pray for our enemies or for those who have wronged us. Through God’s grace He replaces our self with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

2. Start praying for your enemies (those who have hurt you). It’s really difficult to stay angry with someone you are praying for. Jesus told us to love our enemies and to pray for them. Matt. 5:44.

3. Finally go to this person and say the six magic words that the human race has such a hard time with: “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” Watch what happens, not just for the relationship but what happens inside you. It will remove all those hard bitter feelings and will leave you feeling soft, refreshed and renewed like you’ve been born again. Peace and love will again abide in your heart. That’s how you know that your anger and bitterness is resolved.

4. Remember that forgiving another person doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have a close relationship with that person but it means that you have let go of the bitterness and bad feelings towards that person. They no longer control your feelings. You have an inner peace towards them and feel the power to wish them well.

Part II. What To Do To Gain The Peace That Passes All Understanding

1. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know when reparative action is necessary.

  • When we are offended – we are fearful, frustrated, and have our feelings hurt.
  • When either you or your spouse is closed off and not talking to or connecting with the other.
  • Whenever the marital peace is disturbed – when neither feels safe to share feelings or express needs with one another.

2. When you hurt others, confess with humility, and repair the damage.

  • Be gentle – a soft demeanor turns away your partner’s anger. Say, you are sorry, please forgive me. (or for my attitude)
  • Prov. 15: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
  • Make them feel safe and sure – value their feelings and needs.
  • Take all the responsibility that is yours, and don’t point to the other’s faults. Even if you believe they are 90% responsible for the trouble, you are 100% responsible for your 10% of the total harm.

3. When others hurt you, forgive them, and release them to the Lord. Let Him deal with them by setting them free – setting us
free! Untying the knot that binds them in your mind.

  • Releasing them to God also release you from the corrosive effects of anger and bitterness that will poison your life.
  • Use Matt. 18 formula - don’t put them into prison in your mind. Release the person as of they had never done anything wrong against you. Think about all the things we have done against God.
  • “I release them to you God, there your problem, I have forgiven them.
  • Don’t give Satan an advantage, act quickly and repair the relationship.
  • When we offend someone – they don’t want to talk, look or touch us. We need to repent.

Examples:

  • Holding onto anger and refusing to forgive is like buying “rat poison” to kill the rat, but then taking and dying from the poison yourself.
  • We release the person for our sake. People who have offended you will just go on in their life not caring about your hurt feelings. So, who is getting hurt by your holding on to anger? You are!
  • The resentment effect is like gangrene. You lose the light of God.
  • You cannot afford to let anger take root in your life. (story)

Assignments:

  1. Without naming names, whom do you need to go and confess your sins because they were hurt by your actions, and how should you approach them?
  2. Without naming names, whom do you need to forgive for the hurt they caused you – whether thee incident was yesterday or years ago – and how should you release them to God in order to be set free?
  3. Talk over your plan with someone you trust, like a friend, pastor, or spouse. This will make you more responsible and will give you the support you need to follow through with your plan of action.

THE QUESTION IS ASKED, “EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE FORGIVEN, CAN YOU FORGET?” Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory but once you have forgiven someone, it can become a positive memory rather than a negative memory.

Story (Forgiveness in family)

True forgiveness is emotional closure from anger, hurt and bitterness.
Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory.

CLOSING SONG (tape) – “Beyond Justice to Mercy”

Recommended Reading:

The Art of Forgiving by Lewis Smedes
Forgiven by Randy Barber
I Should Forgive, But… by Dr Chuck Lynch
Overcoming Hurts and Anger by Dwight Carlson, MD
Making Anger Your Ally by Neil Clark Warren
The Secrets of a Lasting Marriage by Norman Wright
Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
Making Love Last Forever by Gary Smalley
The Language of Love by Gary Smalley and John Trent
The Misunderstood Emotion by Carol Tavis

 

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