Anger: A Secondary Emotion
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, anger is defined as “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism.” Within the definition of anger, it is explained that anger is a secondary emotion to a primary emotion, such as: fear, embarrassment, disrespected, confusion, sadness, scared, etc. However, in our culture, we see anger portrayed quite often through individuals of all ages.
As a society, we use anger in order to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable and from displaying our more sensitive emotions. For example, instead of displaying fear, which can be seen as a weakness, we show our anger in order to seem stronger or more powerful. However, in 1 John 4:18 we find that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” Explaining that Jesus drives out all fear and we can do the same through Him and belief in His Truth.
At times we are quick to become angry and other times, we allow primary emotions to build up before addressing them. After they have built up, these emotions will become intense enough to be portrayed as anger. Coincidentally, having an ‘anger issue’ is something that a lot of people struggle with. And this coincidence is something that leads me to believe that there is a more vulnerable emotion that is being covered up, coped with, or displayed through anger.
As previously stated, anger can be viewed as an emotion which displays strength; whereas emotions such as, sadness, guilt, and embarrassment can be seen as a weakness to some. But Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “Each time he [Jesus] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” At times we need a quick reminder that all things are possible with Jesus (Matthew 19:26). He can take our anger and turn it into gentleness and love, He can take our fear and use it to draw us closer to Him, and He can take our weaknesses (or “weak” emotions) and use them to bring glory to Himself. And in those moments when it feels difficult to show our vulnerable feelings to others, we can seek comfort in knowing that Jesus understands and He is patiently waiting for us to share with Him.
It is important to know and believe that your anger doesn’t define you, it doesn’t determine your worth, and it certainly isn’t something that is stuck on your forever. Anger is merely a way of coping with a more difficult emotion, or maybe it was something that was modeled for you, or maybe it was the only way to be seen or heard. However, anger can really hurt those around us, can cause us to damage positive relationships, and can pull us away from our Creator. So in time and in being honest and truthful with Christ and possibly those around us, we are able to work through the underlying cause of our anger, as well as develop positive ways of coping with our primary emotions before they can turn into anger.