The most active volcano in the world is Kilauea in the Hawaiian Islands of the United States of America. It’s name means “spewing” in the Hawaiian language, and it earned it’s name because it frequently erupts. Historical record-keeping of the volcano’s eruptions began back in 1790. And from there on, the volcano’s history shows that the longest gaps between eruptions have been around 30 years, however a table the I reviewed seemed to show eruptions coming with more frequency as we approached the 1980s. Some eruptions lasted for less than a day, some lasted for longer than a month, some longer than a year, and even some over two years. Then on January 3, 1983 Kilauea violently erupted in a giant roar with lava fountains that shot up out of the volcano some 1,500 feet (approx 460 meters) into the sky. And, amazingly, to this day, over 34 years later, the volcano is still erupting. Scientists have attempted many guesses on when the lava flow will stop, but in reality, they really don’t know. It seems like science is not an exact science, and there’s still many things in this world that science doesn’t understand.
For many years I was the recipient of another person’s anger and “blow-ups,” sometimes it was over big things and sometimes it was over little things. Being around this individual was rather like being around the super-active smoldering volcano of Kilauea in Hawaii. Their behavior, their anger, was like when the pressure builds up in a volcano and there’s not room for any more poison within, the spewing would commence. When the pressure was relieved, and the spewing stopped, the “spewer” felt relief, and they could then return to a dormant state – until the next eruption. And over the years the eruptions from this individual increased in frequency, duration, and intensity. Evidentially, it seemed like their personal volcano was in continuous eruption.
Unbridled anger is dangerous to everyone involved. Sure enough, during those episodes of spewing, severe damage was left in the wake. The spewer felt better, but they devastated everyone else. Like the poisonous lava that hardens and covers the earth after it flows from Kilauea, words and actions done in unleashed anger causes dangerous conditions in relationships as a hardness settles over the spewer and “spewee.” Keep up spewing, and relationships are damaged enough from the emotional abuse that there’s no turning back or mending that can be done. The only hope that I see for relationships such as this, is for the spewer can get a handle on their anger, and make a permanent change in their actions. Years of counseling, and anger management groups, did no good for the volcanic personality that was around me.
I knew well the wisdom of Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” However, as time went on, I found myself reacting more and more strongly to the eruptions from the spewer. My defensive mechanisms built up and in reaction to the eruption from the spewer, I would also react. And, fairly soon, I too was fighting back with my own version of poisonous lava. In addition, each and every time I received an eruption in my direction, along with each and every time that I reacted in a like way, it took it’s toll on me emotionally, psychologically, and even physically. My struggle was that of real life, in-the-trenches, in anger and more often than not, I did not succeed in taming the anger that was growing in me. It was a very vicious circle, and the more it was fed, the more it seemed to grow.
I know that when I react in a like manner to hostile behavior that damage is done, so my method of coping with anger is to try to keep my mouth shut until I can get a better grip on my emotions. And then I prefer to sit down and talk with the other party to hash things out in a civilized manner. However, while my circumstances have changed, there are times that I find that the old rather hostile nature of handling anger in a non-constructive way resurfaces. When frustrated or wronged, if I don’t stop and think, I can react in an very abrupt manner and say what I feel that I need to say in a very unkind way. I have come a long way out of the dark hole of anger to which I got sucked in. I don’t like to give Satan a foothold, so I recognize that anger is a trigger for me. I turn to God and seek the wisdom that His Word offers. I let the Holy Spirit whisper into my conscience. And, if I have lashed out to an offense, I make an effort to apologize, talk out the situation, and set things right. It’s an ongoing process and I continue to work hard through the grace of God to defeat this enemy. I’m not there yet, but with God’s help, Satan will be vanquished!
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20, ESV)