Everyone Needs a Mad Board
by Mary Southerland |
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, NIV)
Friend to Friend
Learning to control anger is a crucial life lesson – one that we need to master and pass on to our children. Up until my young adult years, I had a huge temper. It took very little to make me furious. In moments of anger, I would slam doors, hurl various objects across the room and yell! I don’t remember anyone telling me what to do with my anger – until I surrendered my heart to God. And believe me, He had plenty to say about it in His Word.
As the years went by, I married and became the mother of two amazing children who inherited my huge temper. It was now my responsibility to train Jered and Danna in the ways of God, including how to control their anger.
I prayed continually that God would not only give me practical ways to manage my own anger but that He would also enable me to teach my children to control their anger. The “Mad Board” was created.
When Jered was nine years old, we realized that he frequently struggled with his little sister, Danna. I know. Shocking, isn’t it? Danna had discovered each and every one of her brother’s emotional buttons and delighted in pushing them. Jered’s frustration grew until the day he retaliated. It wasn’t pretty!
My husband Dan and I talked about how we should approach Jered and came up with the “Mad Board.” Dan cut a long piece of two-inch plywood and drove over 50 nails halfway into the board. He wrote “Jered’s Mad Board” on the piece of wood and handed it to his curious son. Dan explained that anytime Jered became frustrated with his sister or felt angry inside, he should pick up a small hammer and drive nails into the board instead of exploding.
Over the next few months, we watched Jered drive a lot of nails into a lot of wood, learning that anger can be managed. Today, Jered is an even-tempered father and husband who has found constructive ways to manage his anger. I often tell him that he has his sister to thank for his successful career as a master carpenter and superintendent in a large construction company in Kansas City! Not only did Jered learn how to control his anger, but our whole family has learned some techniques you might find helpful:
- Pray for the person or circumstance that caused your anger.
- Exercise strenuously for 20 minutes.
- Play a solo game of basketball.
- Run an errand for the purpose of a short silent retreat.
- Take a hot shower or bath.
- Breathe for a count of nine. Hold your breath for a count of nine and exhale to the count of nine. Repeat three times.
- Memorize five Bible verses on anger and speak them out loud when angry.
- Journal your feelings. Even children can do this. If they can’t write words, they can draw pictures.
- Take a 15-minute walk.
- Buy a punching bag and use it to release destructive anger.
The people around us want to see what happens when life pushes our buttons and anger puts the squeeze on our emotions. While God created us with emotions, it is our responsibility to control them instead of allowing them to control us. God’s plan for anger management is a priceless gift you can unwrap in your own life as well as in the lives of your children.
Father, please forgive me when I allow my anger to take control of my emotions and life. Help me to be more balanced in the way I live so that I won’t be such an easy target for the enemy when it comes to anger. It is so easy to lose control of my emotions when I am not in the Word and not in prayer on a daily basis. I want to make a new commitment to You by making a new commitment to spend consistent time studying the Bible and talking with You.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Take a few moments to consider the following questions:
Who or what pushes your buttons the most?
What are your present anger management skills? How well do they work?
What factors in your daily schedule make you more anger prone? How can you manage or even eliminate those factors?