Before a man can control his anger properly, he must have a great degree of patience. This is the foundation of controlling anger. Most of us have "lost it" when others try our patience. Some of us have so little that we immediately get involved in the strife, and then all kinds of bad things happen.
However, remember, that the person who is trying your patience will enjoy your suffering. He will take glee in your misery if you show your discomfort. That's really the whole purpose of someone who is a jerk--they want to upset your life and will go to great lengths to destroy it. But if a man can manage to have patience, he will then take the joy away from the person who is aggravating him. All most of us have to do in this situation is to simply not respond. There isn't any reason to feed the evil, so the best thing to do is to just leave it alone; let it burn itself out, and don't give your adversary any enjoyment out of his evil. If we allow ourselves to get angry, then we will give joy to the one who is doing the antagonizing. Patience is the virtue to be acquired as it is godly. Whereas, impatience is of the evil one and it should be defeated.
Now, before you start thinking that I'm a smart guy, I actually learned patience from an early Christian writing by Tertullian, called "On Patience." And I had no sooner read and understood this writing, I had an extreme example of how it actually worked to my benefit.
When I was in prison, I had a cell mate who claimed to be a Christian, but he had a Harry Potter book. I asked him how is it that he called himself a Christian and read Harry Potter? Well, he went berserk and he wanted to fight. He kept mumbling to himself, telling the other guys that he was going to kick my ass. The only problem for him was that he was soon to be released from prison and he was debating with himself if it was worth the extra two years in prison he would get if he beat me up. Now, I wasn't scared as I can take care of myself, but if he ever sat on me I'd be a goner. But I don't like to fight, I just don't see the point.
He kept after me for three weeks. He called me names, called me a coward, called me almost everything you could think of, and all I did the whole time was to lay down on my bunk and listen to music. I had to in order to drown out his babbling. The other guys were saying: "Are you going to take that shit from him?" I told them just to watch what happens.
At some point, he realized what I was doing to him. I was taking all of his fun out of harassing me and he finally stopped. He didn't say much, but he was grinning to himself that I had beat him on this incident. He actually became more friendly to me and actually helped me help another inmate with some paperwork that needed to be done.
Before this happened, I learned patience from Tertullian's writing. I never learned that when I was a younger man. While I was far from a hot-head; when things like this come up, I wouldn't have known how to deal with it. But this time, I learned it well and it worked. I could have become angry and fought it out with him. But that would not have accomplished anything with the exception of the two of us getting an additional two years each for fighting. Somewhere in Tertullian's writing on patience he calls it "the pilot of peace." He was absolutely correct.
Along with patience, I needed to get rid of my anger. I just shut my mouth and suppressed it. In the Shepherd of Hermes in Mandate #5, we are told that the cause of anger is spiritual. It says that we are influenced or egged on to being angry by demonic or satanic forces. It goes on to explain how to recognize it when it is starting. When we feel the anger coming up inside of us, that is the critical point to where it can get out of control. It is the evil spirit that is attempting to influence us to do something bad. While I don't know if this writing is "scripture" I do believe it is true because it is exactly the way it happens. The early Christians apparently thought it was and I can understand their thinking. But it's only a writing, but what makes it special is that the writing, when applied to practical living, worked perfectly.
It it important to understand that anger is provoked on a spiritual level. I think this is why a man can have a nice relationship with a woman one minute, and at the other, the woman goes from 0-bitch
in seconds. Men can do this too, but I think that women have a tendency to be overrun with anger and they have a shorter fuse and are more emotions. The reason I think this is happening is that men and women don't understand the dynamics of temptations and anger. This may also help to explain why a man or a woman will get evil thoughts that seem to come from nowhere. Most people don't act upon them, but it has been my experience that when it happens to me, I think: "Where did that come from?"
But remember, when anyone says anything to someone else in a fit of anger, it can almost be as bad as shooting or stabbing them. I remember many times I used to walk away devastated by a verbal attack. I would not ever underestimate the destructiveness of verbal assaults, especially if done on a spouse. The damage that can occur on just one exchange can ruin the whole relationship.Trust is compromised and the person receiving the assault starts to shut down because he cannot trust that person who delivered the assault.
When the provocation of anger comes upon us, it is my opinion that the best thing to do is nothing and just let it pass, even if we have to suppress it. I have found that it works really well and it stops even more problems later on, as you can see in my example.
Most of us have allowed evil to lead us around by the nose because we are so used to it, we don't give it a second thought. So the idea here is to recognize it for what it is and deal with it accordingly.
Since anger in and of itself is evil, but many times understandable, to take any actions while being angry can be very dangerous. It is always better to let it pass. I am able to do this because, in order to suppress anger, I had to learn patience. And I think marriages would be better served if men and women learned how to do this. It really isn't that difficult, and I think the main thing to do is to recognize impatience and anger for what they are: evil and satanic. Nothing good comes from evil or anything that can be deemed satanic. So nothing good should be expected of actions based upon them. I believe that many marriages could have been saved throughout the years if more people understood the destructiveness of anger. People would have fewer enemies if any at all if they knew what was going on--understanding the dynamics.
Another way I accomplish self-control is by repeating the commandment with which I'm being tempted to break. I almost find it unbelievable, but when I remember to do that, whatever is bothering me almost immediately goes away. And rightfully so, because evil is weak. Evil is a losers game. Just look at an evil person and ask yourself is this someone of true strength. No, because he is in the bondage of the evil; evil is bondage.
I strongly recommend that the two writings be examined by the reader. I'll post the links here at the bottom for your convenience.
Tertullian's: On Patience
Shepard of Hermes: Go to the Mandate #5 Section
Walter Allen Thompson is the author of The Grace of Repentance: Keeping God's Commandments