Tag Archives: Anger

Finding an Idol

If you’re a “Survivor” fan, you know about the hidden immunity idol.  Up until a few seasons ago, people tended to wait for a clue before searching for the coveted necklace, but that all changed when one of the players–Russel Hantz–searched without any clues and found one. In fact, he was so good at finding them, he became known as the king of hidden immunity idols.  Getting back to these idols; the reason they are so critical to the game is because when a team loses, they have to vote out a player. If the player suspects he/she might be the player voted out, they can bring out the immunity idol and all votes against him/her are dismissed. Often, players seek to flush out immunity idols of others by making them believe they are voting for them when they are actually voting for someone else. That way, later on in the game, hopefully those players will be vulnerable to being voted out.  Those who are vigilant, find the idols and use them wisely.

Solomon gives some great advice, that relates to those who flush out the hidden immunity idols. Except his advice, obviously, is not for some game, but for life. He wrote, “A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust,” (Proverbs 21:22, ESV). It is no secret that whoever has the high ground, will win the battle more times than not. For that reason, cities would build watchtowers and towers for archers on corners of their city walls so that the enemy could be seen and fought at different angles. Legend has it that Humpty Dumpty was actually the nickname of a canon in one such tower. When the tower was destroyed it fell to the ground and due to its size it became immovable under the rubble; not even a team of horses could move it. Because of that, the city was overtaken by its invaders.

The scenario doesn’t just work with literal strongholds, fortresses, and towers; it works for our own inner-battles. It’s a fair bet to say that most of us do not have the time, or more likely do not take the time, to seek the stronghold (or as I like to say, the idol) that is keeping us in our sins.  It could be the idol of pleasure, distrust, self-trust, power, money, or any number of other strongholds.  Typically speaking, the stronghold is not just affecting one area of our lives, but multiple areas. The same stronghold/idol may be fighting you on multiple walls.

Perhaps you can’t figure out why pornography has such a stronghold on you. As you look, you realize that you also have a problem with overeating (whether your struggling with weight or not). You realize that you watch too much television or play Fortnite too long as well.  Suddenly the idol of pleasure can be clearly seen. Or perhaps the stronghold of approval (see my blog, Help! My Husband Watches Porn! for more on this).

Perhaps you can’t understand why you have anger issues, but suddenly you see that your desk has to be just so before you can concentrate. You are constantly washing, waxing, and vacuuming out your car. You freak out when your shoes are scuffed. Perhaps the stronghold of perfectionism is the issue, or maybe the idol of control has been lifted high.

There tends to be a glaring sin in a believer’s life that is crying out about which you and I need to deal. The believer rightly sees it and declares war on what they believe to be the sin. In reality, the sin is the symptom of the idolatrous stronghold.  Wasted energy is given toward the sin that seems so unrelenting, but if we looked, we’d see that it is the stronghold above shooting arrows of which we have been completely unaware.  “A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust,” (Proverbs 21:22, ESV). When you and I do that, we very well may find that the sinful symptoms are more easily overcome.

I’d love to hear your comments. Let me know you thoughts or attitudes as to what I have written.  Feel free to share if you believe this would help others. Please feel free to ask questions about what I’ve written as well.

“Those Words Stung Me”: How to Respond When Words Cut

When I was in eighth grade, I got into an argument with my sister as she was dropping me off at school. I don’t remember what the argument was about, but I was angry, and before I got out of her ’92 Lebaron, I screamed, “I hate you!” As the words came out, I realized I couldn’t take them back, but I tried. I immediately tried to cover them with, “I hate this! I hate that we fight all the time.”  Ever have an experience like that? Ever said something to someone, perhaps in anger or frustration or emotional/physical pain that you wish you could take back? You didn’t mean it or you shouldn’t have said it or you weren’t expecting it to get back to them. Remember that feeling?

Now stop for a moment. Have you ever been hurt by someone who said something out of anger, frustration, emotional/physical pain? Have you ever overheard someone say something about you that was betraying? Perhaps something got back to you that your friend never expected to get back to you. Maybe they have confessed that they said it, apologized, and explained that they really didn’t mean what they said.

How do you respond to them?  Hear these words of Solomon, the Preacher: “Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others,” (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22, ESV). Generally speaking, one ought to respond to those painful moments by not taking the words to heart. Why? We’ve all been there. We’ve all made the mistake, many times, of saying things about others that ought never have been said.  We’ve all spoken out of anger, frustration, hurt, etc. If we could take back those words, we would, but we can’t. So what can we do? We can give those who spoke against us the benefit of the doubt. Let’s not allow those words to sink into our souls and cause us deep pain. The pain of just hearing the words is shallow. That’s why we say things like, “those words stung,” or “those were cutting words.” But what we don’t want is for the stings and cuts to become infected and our souls to wind up with sepsis.

This also means that we don’t allow the words to cause us put ourselves “through the wringer.” We don’t go down the hole of “Is everything in my life a lie? What else do I not know about myself? Who else thinks this way about me?” That is then taking the words to heart when they were never meant to be taken to heart.  That isn’t to say that some words ought to lead us to self-examination, but generally speaking that isn’t the case.  If you aren’t sure which way to take the words, ask a trusted friend, pastor, or family member. Ask them if this is something that you need to examine or ignore. Don’t ask the person who won’t tell you the truth because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Ask the person who loves you enough to let you know if what has been said was something that needs to be worked on or if it was something someone said in haste or anger.

I asked my sister a few years ago about that day when I told her I hated her. She says she doesn’t remember it at all. I’m glad. It was a turning point for me; it helped me to get my anger better in check. Other moments have done the same.  But for her, I’m glad she did not take my words to heart.

Are there words in your life that you need to forget were ever uttered? Are there friends that need to be forgiven? None of us are innocent of speaking words that we ought never have spoken. May we allow those moments we’ve committed to determine how we respond when those moments come against us.