I have been a Christian for four months, but I still have a horrible temper. I thought when I accepted Christ as my Savior, my temper problem would go away. But it hasn’t, and now my friends laugh when I tell them I’m a Christian. I am so humiliated, but I don’t know what to do. This can’t be pleasing to God. I’ve read enough of The Bible to know that. I’m too embarrassed to talk to my pastor, so I’m asking for help from you because you can’t see me. ~ Erik with an anger problem
Dear Erik, I’m going to start with a question. Would you expect a little baby to be able to think clearly, make important decisions, and have total impulse control? No? None of us would, and yet you’re expecting yourself, a new baby in Christ, to display qualities that only an adult in Christ can display.
I’m going to draw you a word picture, so try to see with your imagination what I’m drawing. There’s little Erick, just born. He’s wrinkly, tiny, and very loud with his crying. His little body is covered with pink/red skin, and it’s wrinkly because he’s been surrounded by liquid until now. The wrinkles will go away the longer he lives, and he’ll get chubby, filling out those wrinkles. If his mama puts lotion on his skin, it will be beautiful skin with no flaking or dry skin markings.
Now baby Erik has another skin. It’s a psychological skin that covers his mind, his will, and his emotions (his soul). It’s invisible to all of us, but if his Mama ignores him when he cries or mistreats him in any way, it will scar his second skin inside. No one will see those scars for a long time, but if some more bad things happen to him while he’s in his formative young years, more scars will be embedded in his psychological skin.
Let’s fast forward to Erik in his twenties. His outer skin is still nice, but his inside skin – the psychological skin that’s invisible – is in pain and is demanding attention. In your case, you developed an uncontrollable temper. Something traumatic, or even some destructive pattern of behavior, caused you to feel insignificant, or abandoned, or betrayed. And something snapped in your will that screamed, “No one will ever take advantage of me again!” Hence, your temper – your attempt at controlling the behavior of others to protect yourself.
Now Erik becomes a Christian. He sees his need for a Savior and asks Jesus to come into his heart. He even gives control of his life to Christ. But once again, that psychological skin caused unrealistic expectations. You expected Jesus to do instantly what you could not do in more than twenty years – sort of like Jesus was a magician.
What you didn’t realize was that when you asked Christ into your life, you were born again. You got a third skin – a spiritual skin. So now you have a physical skin that’s more than twenty years old, a psychological skin that’s more than twenty years old, and a new spiritual skin that’s brand new and wrinkly, just like your physical skin was when you were born. You are a new spiritual baby, and as you fill your spirit with The Word of God, and live out what you learn, your spiritual skin will mature just as your physical skin did.
Jesus has promised He would never leave you or forsake you, Erik. He will help you become a spiritual toddler, then a teenager, then a young man, then a wise old man in Christ. It is a process, Erik. Not an “Abracadabra” magic trick.
The Bible admonishes the older saints in Christ to mentor the babes in Christ, so I am recommending that you swallow your pride – it’s abhorrent to God, according to His Word – and go to either your pastor or to one of the deacons. Tell him you need to talk to someone who’s wiser than you are and spill it out. God knows your heart, and if your intent is to be pleasing to God, the man who’s wise in the things of God will know that.
All of us have bad things happen to us during our lives, and the older and stronger we are in our Spirit Man, the better we will deal with those bad things. Ask The Holy Spirit to teach you as you read your Bible. That’s His job! And find yourself a mentor – a person you “click” with and give him permission to love you in a Christian Father way, and to be totally honest with you. God never meant for us to travel this journey alone, Erik. So don’t. And let me know how you’re doing. (I can’t see you, remember?)
(c) April Lorier