Chapter 1

When Anger Burns

At 5:05 a.m. the cry of Angela’s infant son awakened her for the fifth time that night. She was alone.

Angela dragged herself out of bed and stumbled toward the sound of the crying. “All I want is a little sleep,” she said out loud. “Is that asking too much?”

All her efforts to soothe her hurting son were futile. Cory’s crying intensified. Angela’s irritation escalated. “You have no right to destroy my life by constantly stealing my sleep night after night! Shut up!” she screamed as she shook her son.

At that moment, she realized just how easy it was to lash out physically at her defenseless son. She slumped to the floor and began to sob.

Jill is an x-ray technician who finds it increasingly difficult to get along with an arrogant doctor at the hospital where she works. If she offers a suggestion about a series of tests he has ordered, he treats her as though she is grossly incompetent and demeans her. He rudely walks away from her in the middle of her questions. He refuses to return her phone calls. The last time it happened, Jill hit the ceiling. Venting to coworkers, she ranted, “Who does he think he is anyway? If it weren’t for the fact that he is the senior orthopedic surgeon in the hospital and I can’t afford to lose my job, I would give him a piece of my mind! Then maybe I’d get a little of the respect I deserve!”

Then there is Paul. He and Roxanne were to be married in a month. Driving home from a date one night, Paul’s car was hit broadside by a drunk driver. Roxanne was killed instantly. Paul would never be the same, emotionally or physically. Doctors told him he would never regain full use of his shattered knee. That meant a change in Paul’s profession as a roofing contractor.

During the eighteen months of rehab for his knee, Paul met Cindy. Less than a year later they married. While all seems to have healed, things are not what they appear to be. Cindy complains of Paul’s lack of closeness. Whenever she confronts him about something he’s done to upset her, he retreats into cool indifference.

What do Angela, Jill, and Paul have in common? They are all battling one of the most powerful emotions known to the human race—anger. Angela’s anger mushroomed to the point of becoming abusive to her child. Jill felt rage toward her coworker but kept it inside. Paul decided the best course of action was to bury his anger and hope it would go away.

Rarely a day goes by that we don’t feel some form of anger. That’s why it’s important to talk about it—what anger is, what it does for us, where it comes from, and how we can learn to handle it in constructive instead of destructive ways. Only when the roots of our anger are exposed will its weeds finally die.



  1. What do you typically do when you feel anger? Express it? Hold it back? Deny that it exists?
  2. How has the way you handle anger been potentially hurtful to others or yourself?
  3. How has the way you handle you’re anger been potentially helpful to yourself or others?