Boil, Evaporate & Sip
Managing the anger emotion
I once watched a video where a mum was angry with her little boy because he had done something wrong. As she called out to him to come over to where she was, the little boy whimpering, ran across the room in circles. He then pleaded with his mum to please calm down. “Mummy please calm down” he says. The boy knew that if his mum’s anger could be tempered down, then his punishment is likely to be less grievous than if he got to her while in her present rage. He understood the essence of buying time when the anger emotion sets in.
Most people including myself found this video not only funny but intriguing. Typical of African kids when your parents are angry and intend to punish you, you are free to cry and make your plea, however giving a piece of advice like telling them to “calm down” could be termed out of place or rude.
Managing the anger emotion could be likened to drinking a cup of hot tea. There are three main stages to illustrate this. Boil, Evaporate, Sip
To make a hot tea, it is necessary that the water is boiled. Asides from the fact that the process of boiling kills the germs in the water and makes it fit for drinking, the teabag as well needs to soak up water for the leaves and ingredients in it, to be mixed with the clear liquid. The boiled hot water is able to permeate more the tea leaves than cold water. Similar to the emotions of anger, our whole thought process is deeply involved. The emotion of anger is capable of permeating every entire part of our being and its effect is immediately visible to others. As it is important for the process of boiling of water to happen for a great cup of tea, consequently it’s fair to conclude that anger is almost an inevitable emotion that every human will have to display at one point or another. Coincidentally, anger could also be for a good cause (i.e. anger towards immorality, injustice, hatred etc.) has infact been instrumental for some great protests and revivals that has changed our world for good today. The bible acknowledges that anger is a feeling that will come naturally. There will be differences in beliefs, values and systems, which will cause us to be angry. However the question is “Do you gulp down your tea while it is still boiling hot?”
“Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry- but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the devil that kind of foothold on your life. (Eph. 4: 26–27 MSG)
Though we need to boil water to make a cup of tea, wisdom tells us that our cup of tea needs to cool down before we drink. In the process of evaporation, where we see physically some form of gas leaving the cup of tea into the air. Scientifically, the process of evaporation ensures the loss of energy for liquid to be converted to gas. What this means is that for a cup of tea to cool down, it needs to give out some of the energy that was supplied by the heat from the boiling water. It is when this is achieved that a cup of tea is safe in terms of right temperature for drinking. I have in some instance also added cold water to cool down my tea. Linking this to managing the emotion of anger, some energy need to be lost from the initial emotion that we are feeling before we can react. Many school of thoughts have advised ways of managing anger i.e walking away from people, object or scene that can aggravate our emotions, or deliberately distracting oneself from the source causing the anger.
“Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Psalm 4:4
“Angry people stir up conflict; hotheads cause much offence. Proverbs 29:22
The key takeaway in allowing some form of evaporation while we are filled with the emotion of anger is to ensure that our emotions do not control us in taking decisions that we will regret later. Just like the little boy who pleaded with his mum to calm down while she was angry, it is important to buy time before reacting.
Before I became a lover of tea, I used to wonder why tea drinkers make the “wheep” sound while drinking their hot tea. At first I thought it was more of a style. Not until I started to drink tea did I realised that sipping a cup of tea was more of a tactic for drinking hot tea without getting one’s mouth burnt. In managing the emotion of anger, even after dissipating some of the negative emotions, it is also important to take caution in reacting.
Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire
James 1:19–20 “ Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to anger. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires
As Christians, the righteousness of God is the key to our everyday living, hence our reason for all actions. In managing the emotions of anger as well, while it is evident that we will be angry sometimes, the frequency and our actions while we go through this emotion needs to be guided by God’s word.
“Colossians 3:12–13 (NLT) Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the lord forgave you, so you must forgive others”.