Your teenager is talking to you. You hear his words but they really don’t sink in. You are frustrated with him because he won’t do his chores and he is being disrespectful. He is actually trying to tell why things are hard for him. You are focused on not being visibly angry and attempting to act like you are listening to him but your hidden anger drowns out his words. Trying to act like you are not angry will not rescue you from the trap of anger.
Anger builds a toxic barrier between you and your son. This danger is easy to see if there are patterns of yelling and angry outbursts. However, holding the anger in may appear less obvious, but this “hidden anger” is just as toxic and destructive. Angry outbursts and loud voices may be rare and your facial expressions may appear calm and even pleasant at times, but underneath the surface, anger is seething and it dominates your thoughts. This hidden anger blocks you from being a true servant and from being responsive to God. It forms a toxic barrier between you and your son and more importantly, between you and God.
When your mind is filled with anger, it colors everything you experience and it compromises your ability to listen to God. James says it this way:
My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.
Notice the progression: quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. If you are speaking, you can’t listen. Speaking and not listening well will lead to increased anger. Anger will not accomplish God’s goodness in your life or in the life of your son.
If you are angry, you will not be able to listen carefully. Listening is essential if you are going to know what your son is thinking in order to know how to honor God and serve him. Proverbs 18:13 warns that it is a shameful thing to answer before listening. As noted above, anger can cause this to happen either by being so loud verbally that it stops the conversation, or by being so loud internally that it causes you to tune out what your son is saying and hear only what you want to hear.
If you are frustrated and angry with your son, consider replacing your anger with a love that encourages you to listen first and learn how to show God’s grace. God calls you to love your son. Listen carefully to him. Ask God for a heart of compassion. God is enabling you to see areas where your son needs growth and encouragement. God does not call you to anger; He calls you to gentleness, pleasant words and a love that does not treat your son as his sins deserve.
Remove the anger and turn to compassion so that your communication will bless your son and honor your God.