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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Anger Management for Caregivers

If you are patient in one moment of anger, 
you will escape a hundred days of sorrow. ~Chinese Proverb

How do we deal with those nasty weeds of anger? How do we manage anger? Angry weeds are hard to uproot. Once we sow those seeds of wrath they just grow and grow. Some even sprout flowers of justification which might cause us to say, “In my defense, you should see what I have to deal with.” 

There's good news: God is a Great Gardener. His Word is a powerful weed killer. 

True, care-giving is not for the faint of heart or the quick tempered. But then how should we respond when instead of "thank you," we get “Why don’t you help me! You’re not helping me. You never do anything for me”? Weeds grow extremely fast and dig deep. Getting rid of them takes great effort.

How do we prevent those seeds of anger from sprouting into deceitful leafy weeds? They are invasive, good only for choking, and bringing “ugly” into God’s garden.

Well, we take a deep breath, give ourselves a moment of silence, smile, and then calmly say, “I’m sorry. You might be right. What can I do for you?” Not likely.

To be honest, I used to be someone who liked to ramble on about everything I’ve done since sunrise; every detail of my extraordinary accomplishments of care-giving I pour like cold and bitter coffee into Dad’s poor old ears. And what does it accomplish—mostly ongoing arguments riddled with hurtful words that he will forget a few hours later, and leave me frustrated steaming with anger because he still didn’t see things my way.

I’ve realized that God’s righteousness brings peace. And that is our goal: peace. Because the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). I’ve learned something about anger also: it’s toxic, it burns, and it’s explosive. Probably not new news, I know. Yet, are we willing to do the hard work? Pull those stubborn weeds and sow the good seed—like prayer.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. ~Philippians 4:6

God doesn’t mind, at least I don't think so, those quick Popcorn Prayers, especially in the heat of that fiery moment. Whatever it is you need at a particular time. God hears you; He is for you; He is never against you. 

1. Lord please calm me down. Don't let me lose control of this situation.

2. Give me peace.
3. Give me strength.
4. Give me words to lift up, not to tear down
5. Give me unconditional love, sympathy.
6. Have mercy.
7. Show me Your better way.
8. Help! I'm going to lose it; don't let me lose it! (Breathe)
9. Give me patience
10. Help me to understand.

We may also remember to pick our battles. Cliché? Perhaps, but it works. Is it important which color t-shirt Dad wants to wear? Probably not. Dad likes wearing dressy pants around the house. I wish he would wear sweats … it’s not important and definitely not worth the fight.

If I take a step back, choose to be patient, I truly will save myself 100 days of sorrow.

This saying is true: Walk a mile in his (or her) shoes. It’s not a pretty journey and we might not want to trade shoes after all.

We are taking care of, and giving care to someone who can no longer do it for themselves. This alone must be so frustrating for them. Dad sometimes can’t recall what he was about to say. Other times he gets confused and forgets how to take another step forward; and sometimes he doesn’t even know if he’s hungry or not. Walk a mile in those shoes.

Let God be Our Gardener
Nonetheless, God understands our pain and our emotions, even our anger. But He’s also asking us to trust Him. His ways are better.

Anger is not a garden we want to sit in. It’s full of overgrown hairy weeds and it can quickly choke out the good seed. Let’s not grow weary of doing good. Keep pulling those weeds. Better still, let God be your gardener. It will soon become habit—think of God’s Word as weed killer.

A Caregiver’s Prayer

Holy Spirit let your peace reign in my home. Replace chaos with order, fear with wisdom, anger with unconditional love and understanding. Thank you Father for your faithfulness even when I am faithless. Help me Jesus to see my loved one through your eyes. Amen.

My Beloved Caregiver

I watched you sit among the weeds
Of anger, doubt, and fear
You have the tools to vanquish them
If but your heart would hear

I chose you to take care of them
I say you’re doing great
Just close your eyes and think of Me
Let anger dissipate

Come sit among the daffodils
On grassy knolls of grace
Let mercy grow your flower beds
With blooms of fragrant praise
(copyright, 2018 by Deborah L. Alten)


  1. Great advice Debby. I remember many a frustrating day when I was a caregiver and not knowing what to do with my anger. I sure could have used your tips and counsel. Loved your phrase "the word of God is our weed killer" -- great word picture to help me remember to allow God daily to weed the garden of my heart. The photos helped drive your points home too. Eager to see what you have to say in blog #3.

  2. Such good advice, especially with the popcorn prayers. When you need them right in that moment. A friend is the caregiver for her husband who has dementia and he tries here patience every day and it's easy for her to get angry with him. She ask for prayers often. I'm going to pass this along to her and your great poem.