What Can Social Media Teach You about Dealing With Anger?
May 6, 2020

5 years ago I posted a sunset photo on social media.  It was my attempt to share a bit of beauty and peace with the world. But what you didn’t see was the anger and frustration that preceded me arriving at the shoreline.  In this picture, I display this image of peace, beauty and calmness. Yet, I left out the parts of me leaving my house and driving away from my family in a fit of frustration. I hide the views of a wife, mother, ministry leader and professional businesswoman running away from home. I hid those feelings of anger that led me to explode.  

I had no specific destination when I veered into the neighborhood lake. I pulled into a parking spot, growling as I left my vehicular refuge, and stomped around the shore line. If there were on lookers, I can’t remember seeing them. For several moments I paced back and forth as the energy and emotion ran from my body.  

And then I watched the sunset.  

Sitting on the hood of my car, I saw the majesty and wonder of God. I found a small element of peace.  I rested my heart and calmed my clamoring mind. In my frustration and rage, I missed the duck as it sway past.  Later I saw it navigating the evening without a care in the world and I smiled.  Here, in this moment, I allowed myself to breath.   After my personal storm passed,  I returned to the life I adore. 

I can’t remember what caused the frustration of that day. At times I crushed under the weight of caring for our family while my husband deployed again to dangerous places. It could have been my frustration at work, an argument with my boss or that I needed rest.  I’m not sure. It was a storm that had been brawling and building before I ever hit the door. But something small, like overflowing dishes in the sink, caused an inferno to erupt. In that moment, every fiber of my soul said “run away.” And I did.   My anger poured out onto my children, my husband and down the street. I carried it all the way to the lake.  Thankfully, I left it on the shoreline.  

Our feelings control so much of our actions and behaviors.  The ebb and flow of life’s moments refine us.  The movement shapes us and gives us focus. In these movements, we experience regrowth.  In times of frustration or fear, we respond with raw, unbridled emotion. As we grow, we see how our responses affect others and ourselves. We vow to be better tomorrow.

Helpline.org explains four elements of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and how these elements are essential for each person to understand how to navigate the pitfalls of our emotions.  Emotional Intelligence is commonly defined by four attributes:   

  1. Self-management – In this stage, you control your impulsive feelings and behaviors.  
  2. Self-awareness – You recognize your emotions and how they affect others.  
  3. Social awareness – Through empathy, you understand the emotions of others.  
  4. Relationship management – You inspire and influence others.  

As we grow, we aspire to control our emotions.  Through our experiences, we begin to see how our emotions influence our own behaviors and affect those around us.   My deepest regrets are those wrapped in anger. They are the moments that I let the rage inside me erupt onto those I love, those I cherish and those I adore.  I’m not perfect. I still have days of frustration and fear. But now, I catch myself. I can say that I have not again jumped into my car and ran away from home. 5 years later, I still have hard days. But I know the feelings of the storm — my storm. I can sense it building and I find a place for it to release – safe from those I love.

The next time you see a beautiful sunset on Social Media, you might look at it and ask “How did the artist come to this place?” What created this place of peace and wonder where intimacy with God and soul converge? You may discover that it wasn’t a beautiful path. It wasn’t lined with clouds or laughter. She could be running away from the world and from herself.  Regardless of it’s origin, the journey contained love.  You can rest assured it included grace as well.  

These dark moments, just like the “Pinterest-worthy” ones, are equally precious. In them we see God’s hand on our soul. We can see love and grace from a much deeper place. That place where God whispers “I know, it’s OK. I’m frustrated too. But I’m not going anywhere.” Here we discover the hope that only God can provide. We find hope when we are brave enough to meet our own darkness face-to-face.

Social media has taught me a lot about myself. I look back on past posts and experiences and see my spiritual journey. It’s not those public images or stories that I let the world see that have the greatest impact. It’s the meaning behind the message. Now, I’ve discovered how I navigated the storms well, and other times, not so well. But we are always walking hand-in-hand with the Lord. 

I pray you find a new focus the next time the storms of life prompt you to run away from the world.  I pray you find peace in Him and listen to the still, small voice that beacons you home.  

All my love,