When Demi Lovato’s album Unbroken released six years ago, the album title intrigued me.
At the time, I was struggling with anger following my divorce.
I don’t know much about Demi’s history or music, other than her incredible vocal range. I listened to the songs carefully to find out how she developed the album’s theme.
She wrote one of the songs to her dad, pleading for him to put down the alcohol and keep his selfish hands off his daughter. It broke my heart. How awful.
Suddenly the stories that circulated on the Internet over the years about Demi entering rehab for cutting and bulimia made sense. The powerless trying to regain control.
So what does this have to do with anger?
In the music video for that particular song, Demi demonstrates that she is using the power of success to overcome her painful past.
Paraphrased, Demi’s lyrics basically say, “Go ahead and try to tear me down, but I will rise from the ground like a skyscraper.”
It’s a popular mind-set in our culture that says, “If you hurt me, I don’t get angry and take revenge; I become successful to prove that you can’t hurt me anymore.”
However, such a mind-set is commonly driven by unresolved anger. We resolve to become indestructible skyscrapers, but have we dealt with what happened at the foundation?
One day during my divorce process, I telephoned my television cable provider to switch the service from both of our names to mine only.
The customer service representative could not seem to understand that my husband was unavailable to approve my request, even after telling her that my husband no longer lived in our home and would not be returning.
I reached the breaking point.
I shouted something about her being too deaf to hear and too dense to understand, slammed down the phone’s receiver, yanked the whole thing out of the wall, and threw it across the bedroom with all my might. It left a perfect, telephone-shaped hole in the sheet rock.
That was not a proud moment on many levels.
My over-the-top anger vividly taught me that anger can cause damage—literally. That day I asked God to remove those sharp, angry edges and begin the process of mending my heart.
I prayed for that poor customer service rep whose hair I set aflame and asked God’s forgiveness.
If you struggle with anger, it takes intentional time in prayer and God’s Word to remove it.
At one point during her video, Demi looks defiantly into the camera as if to say, “You tried to rip me down, but my sweetest revenge will be in-your-face success.”
That mind-set likely resonates with us at some level because all of us have been hurt. Whether someone betrayed a trust, shared a secret, or physically hurt us, we get it.
Sometimes we feel the need to prove that we can rise like a skyscraper above painful adversity.
But we will not find resurrection apart from Jesus.
Anger is appropriate if we’ve been hurt, but many of us take it further. Sometimes, we add coals of bitterness and resentment and stoke our anger with dreams of vengeance.
But the truth is that we never master the flame.
Fire doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t just scorch those who hurt you—it scorches you. Eventually, it will consume your life (Psalm 37:8).
Anger itself is not a sin. However, it may become sinful when excessive or prolonged.
When we hold on to anger and bitterness, the conflagration eventually destroys us from the inside out. Evil wins.
So how do we properly respond to our wounds when we are surrounded by an outrage-obsession culture?
We don’t resolve to throw telephones across the room or build skyscrapers.
We choose to forgive.
And only God gives us the strength for that hard task.
Forgiveness is the only way to extinguish the flames of anger and once again put your feet on the path toward joy.
Surrender your anger to God.
Let Him build a skyscraper of grace in your life, built on the foundation of forgiveness.
*This post is an excerpt from my new book, Forgiveness: Received from God, Extended to Others, available now.