Anger can be a very important issue to address so that you can live a full life. As a counselor, I know this anger piece will have to be addressed first before some of you can truly forgive. I know so many Christians go to counselors with abuse, trauma and all kinds of wounding from others. They are quickly told to forgive without giving instructions on how to heal the wound. Years later, they are still acting wounded, but they are confused because they forgave the person.
When we experience significant trauma from others or our spouse we get wounded. These wounds are three-dimensional: spirit, soul and body. So we need a spirit, soul and body solution. The exercise I am going to recommend is called “Cleansing the Temple.” This is something you can do without anyone being aware of the pent-up anger you have toward them. In this exercise, you will write a letter. Never show this letter to them—that is not helpful.
You can deal with the anger you have toward others all by yourself. Just like this practical exercise about forgiveness, they don’t have to be there, confess or change and you can deal with this alone. Once you have actually done the Cleansing the Temple exercise, your spirit, soul, and body will be able to do the other forgiveness exercises you have ahead of you on forgiveness.
Cleansing the Temple
I encourage you to try this exercise for the anger you may be experiencing and see what you think afterwards.
Cleansing the Temple can remove a lot of the pain that you may carry in your soul. This pain may be from family of origin issues caused by neglect, abuse or abandonment. The pain you carry may be from childhood abuse. Some pain carried in your soul is from your spouse. In some Christian marriages, spouses traumatize one another or deprive one another to such a degree that the anger appears overwhelming.
The anger builds up in your soul until the size of your wounds makes it difficult to be intimate. Even though you did not cause the wounds, you are now responsible to heal from them. Similar to walking outside and getting shot by a sniper, you are 100 percent responsible to heal from the wound even though he/she is one hundred percent responsible for causing the wound.
This is a very important concept to understand because in our culture victim status is power. This power is manipulated to make other people pay, or is used to not be fully responsible for yourself or the direction of your life.
The Cleansing the Temple exercise has its roots in the biblical examples where Jesus cleanses the temple. The account of this is found in each Gospel. You would do well to take a moment and study each account. The recordings in Scripture of this event are as follows: 1) Matthew 21:12, 2) Mark 11:15, 3) Luke 19:45 and 4) John 2:14-16
Principle 1. The Temple
God’s plan all along was to dwell inside us. We are His holy temple. This being true, temples can get defiled through many avenues including manipulations, abuses and neglect from others. When we get defiled through life, our temple gets defiled and needs to get cleaned out as well.
We are the possessors of our temple. If your temple gets defiled through the abuse of others, you are the one who needs to clean it up. You are actually the only one who can clean your temple.
Even if it was your spouse who has caused the defilement, he or she cannot clean it out of your temple. They can say they are sorry, but that doesn’t get rid of the muck or defilement that has already been placed inside of your soul. Only you can clean up that mess. I believe that Jesus took responsibility to clean His own temple because it gives us a clear message that we can clean our own temple as well.
Principle 2. He Identified the Sin
Most of the people who have hurt you have no concept of your holiness or preciousness. You have felt used or abused during the incidents where you were wounded. In one of the exercises of cleansing the temple, we will need to identify the sin or damage that has been done unto you by those who have defiled your temple.
Principle 3. He Engaged His Anger
Jesus was able to engage the anger at the injustice both physically and verbally. His turning over the table was probably quite a scene. I am sure that that is why the Jews asked Him about His authority to create such a ruckus.
This wasn’t just Jesus having a bad day. This was an act of His will. This was a thought-through act of Jesus and an act of obedience. This is an important point to understand, because it will be an act of your will to clean your temple. Once you walk through the rest of the exercises, I believe it will be an act of obedience as well.
Principle 4. Temple Restored to Original Order
Jesus cleansing the temple offers a picture of how to heal your wounds inside your temple. After he engaged the righteous rage, His temple was cleansed. Remember only He could cleanse His temple. No other prophet or king has done so before Him or after Him. He alone could clean His house, as only we alone can clean our own temple.
Check back soon for the practical application for this exercise.
Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books including, The 7 Love Agreements. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com or on his Facebook, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.