Nearly 140 years ago, an explosion shattered the quiet on August 27, 1883. Krakatoa, a volcano in Indonesia, blasted miles of rocks and debris into the air. People living 2,000 miles away heard the eruption. Thick ash filled the sky, plunging the surrounding area into darkness for two days. Tsunamis crashed into nearby islands.
The devastation was incredible.
Scientists think a smaller explosion the day before created the conditions for the massive burst. Just 24 hours earlier a small amount of rock shot into the air and might have fallen back into the volcano, acting like a plug. This caused the pressure inside Krakatoa to build.
The next morning, a crack on the side of the volcano opened beneath the ocean surface. Cold seawater hit molten rock, rapidly creating scorching hot steam. The steam, plus the pressure, blew the island to smithereens.
Have you ever felt like you wanted to explode like Krakatoa? Maybe a kid at school spread lies about you, a friend blabbed your secret or you were punished for something you didn’t do.
When things like these happen, you’ll probably get angry. That’s OK. Anger isn’t a sin. Even Jesus got angry. What you do with your anger makes it right or wrong.
The Bible says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check” (Proverbs 29:11). Full vent sounds like a volcanic explosion: hot, volatile and destructive. When Krakatoa erupted, the blast created tsunamis that wiped out entire cities. Clouds of ash fell thousands of miles away, damaging crops and polluting drinking water.
Similarly, when you give your anger full vent, it can have serious consequences. Your anger probably hasn’t caused a massive wave, but have you ever broken something when you were upset? You might have hurt someone’s feelings by yelling at your siblings or snapping at your best friend.
Instead of letting the pressure of your emotions build up and explode, it’s important to learn how to express your anger in a healthy way.
Cool Your Rage
You should never act out of anger. Cool your head before you do something destructive. Take control of your emotions instead of letting them control you. That doesn’t mean that you bottle them up, but it does mean that you need to calmly talk about them.
The Bible provides lots of good ideas for handling your anger without sinning. One important way is to try to understand other people. James 1:19 says, “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” When you listen more than you speak, you’ll learn to look at situations from other people’s perspectives. Plus, you’ll avoid misunderstandings that come when you don’t pay close attention.
Discuss your feelings sooner rather than later. You shouldn’t “let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). Instead, once you’re calm enough to talk without yelling, approach the person who made you angry. Talk through what happened and why it made you angry. The longer you wait to discuss what happened, the harder it will be.
Finally, let go of your anger, no matter what. Colossians 3:13 says, “Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.” Even if you don’t get an apology or you feel like someone still doesn’t understand, you need to forgive them. If you let your anger simmer in your heart, it could explode like a volcano.
The truth is, some things that seem important in the moment aren’t really all that important. Relationships with your friends and family mean more than winning an argument. So the next time you feel yourself getting angry, remember Krakatoa. Take a deep breath, and don’t blow your top.
When you get angry, try these ideas to remain calm instead of letting your emotions explode.
— Take a deep breath and count to 10. Repeat as many times as you need to.
— Walk away from the situation and spend quiet time alone.
— Exercise to burn off your anger.
— Eat a snack. Hunger can make everything seem worse.
— Explain what happened to a parent or teacher, then listen to their advice.
— Once you are calm, talk to the person who made you angry.
— Pray. God is always listening, and He wants to help you express your emotions in a healthy way.