Four Battle Strategies for Exploders

This is our fourth class recap for the Wednesday night lesson series I’m teaching on the book, Unglued, by Lysa Terkeurst.

Since we discovered that many people in our class were “exploders,” we spent last Wednesday discussing ways to fight our tendency to “blow up” on others–especially the people we love the most.

The first strategy was one that I mentioned in the last recap:  Remember your goals.  As Christians, our goals should not be to make ourselves feel better or to cause others hurt for the way they hurt us.  Rather, our goals should be to glorify God and to strengthen our relationships with others.  Thus, any interactions we have with others, whether we’re angry or not, should aim to meet those goals.

resources-bookSecondly, we talked about how we can plan our response ahead of time.  Terkeurst calls this, “crafting our response template.”  In her book, she talked about a template for written communication, like email or Facebook messages.  However, the ideas of her response template can work face-to-face, as well.  Her suggestions were to start off positively (“honor the other person”), keep your words “short and full of grace,” and to “end by extending compassion.”  One of our classmates suggested the technique of the “compliment sandwich,” which she uses at school to correct children.  She always starts with something positive (and relevant) about their behavior, adds in the instructive part, and then closes with something else that is affirming to the child.  I definitely think that technique is good for both adults and children.  When we focus on the positive, we not only soothe the other person’s feelings, but we remember why we love that person–and that helps us to remember our goals!

Another suggestion Terkeurst gives is to practice self-control.  That kind of seems easy to say and hard to do, but I love the reasoning that she gives for controlling ourselves in stressful situations:  “My choice is whether or not to give the other person the power to control my emotions.  The one who holds their tongue is the one who holds the power.  When I react by yelling, flying off the handle, or making a snappy comment, I basically transfer my power to the other person.  In the case of my children, that means I am giving my power to one of my five teenagers.  Yikes” (72).  These words remind me that to lose control is to give up power over my emotions to another person.  That surrender is never in anyone’s best interest, least of all mine!

Lastly, Terkeurst reminds us of the importance of remembering Scripture in stressful situations.  This technique has definitely helped me in life when I’m tempted to explode on someone.  I remember, for example, being on a youth trip and getting frustrated with Greg.  It was years ago, and I honestly can’t remember why I was frustrated, but I do remember what helped me.  I had recently memorized Colossians 3:12-17, and in my frustration, I paused and recited those verses to myself:  “Therefore, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with each other, and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be grateful…”

After saying those verses in my head, I simply couldn’t stay mad about something so small (whatever it was!).  My anger evaporated without me ever having to even talk to Greg!

Colossians 3 is a great place to start if you are looking for verses to think about when you are angry.  Here are some other good ones:

  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs. 15:4
  • “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” James 1:19-20
  • “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Romans 12:18
  • “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”  Ephesians 4:2
  • “Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” 1 Peter 5:8-9
  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things, there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22

One thing I did for class was to make us each a little visual reminder of these verses, in case we weren’t familiar with them.  To do so, I simply did a Google image search of each verse, then copied the images onto a blank page on Microsoft Publisher.  I put nine images on a page, and made sure they were all the same size.  Then, I printed copies of the page, laminated them, and cut the verses apart.  I poked a hole in one corner of each verse and put them on a key ring.  Ta-da!  A quick, easy way to keep verses with us at all times.

Those were our four battle strategies we discussed last Wednesday.  Tonight, we’re going to talk about what I call, Battle Strategy #5.  This strategy, perhaps more than any of the others, helps me the most when I’m tempted to explode…or for that matter, to “stuff” my emotions in unhealthy ways.  I can’t wait to share it with you, and I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me!

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