One of the biggest barriers to forgiving those who have hurt us is our unresolved hurt and anger. More often than not, where there is hurt, there is anger. Both need to be resolved.
Unresolved or buried anger is extremely destructive. This is why the Bible teaches us to resolve it as quickly as possible. Unless we do, it can turn into resentment, bitterness, hostility, and even rage if enough of it is bottled up for long enough. It is destructive to our physical, emotional and spiritual health. It is also very damaging to relationships and can lead to deep depression. Being angry is not sinful. It is how we handle it—or fail to handle it—that is either right or wrong, creative or destructive. No matter what the other person does to me, my anger is always my issue and my responsibility. Nobody makes me angry without my permission.
Anger needs to be directed to its source and felt and expressed (not just talked about) in creative ways. Wherever possible it pays to express these feelings to the one who hurt us remembering always to "speak the truth in love"(Eph 4:15). Where this isn't appropriate or possible, we can write out our feelings as David often did in the Psalms, read out loud what we have written, and then burn or throw away the copy. Or we can express these painful feelings to a trusted friend or counselor. Whatever we do we need to express them creatively and get them off our chest once and for all. This then clears the way for forgiveness; for as long as we nurse grudges and "sit" on our anger, we can never genuinely forgive anyone.
As Paul said, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger!" Don't sit on it. Don't deny it. Don't bury and don't repress it. Express it in healthy ways. And remember, what we fail to talk out creatively we will inevitably act out destructively in one way or another.
This is my prayer: Dear God, when I feel angry, please help me to express it creatively without blaming others for my reaction. And help me always to speak the truth in love. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer.
Opara Ethelbert O.