Growing up, I always heard, “Don’t go to bed angry.” The Bible even says we shouldn’t go to bed angry in Ephesians 4. It sounds like great advice, but honestly, sometimes I feel like my feelings choose me, and their timing isn’t always good. I am sure you can relate to this…when I am emotionally distressed, it is difficult for me to sleep. And furthermore, when I do feel angry, dealing with anger at bedtime isn’t always practical.
So let’s take an honest look at this and be fair about the observations:
- Sometimes you are going to go to bed angry or emotionally distressed.
- The Bible doesn’t give us a specific way on how not to feel angry before bed…it just says deal with it.
- Sometimes it is hard to identify the cause. Sometimes I just feel…angry.
I have to come to understand that it is more about the relationship in which anger exists, and not the emotion of anger itself. I can go to bed free from anger, but still remain emotionally detached or disconnected from those central human relationships.
Several years ago, I was in a marital counseling session as a participant (not the counselor), and was given this tool to use daily. It was something my wife and I actually had to schedule every day. I call it the “Heart Dump”. As corny as that name sounds, here is how it works…
We scheduled our time in the evening after dinner. My wife and I would sit across from each other and go through a series of questions. Each of us would go through the entire set of questions and listen to the replies without making comments (repeating their answer for clarification is permitted). We would use happy, sad, angry, anxious, excited, thankful, etc., with the following pattern (always ending with thankful):
- What are you happy about?
- What else could you be happy about?
- Is there anything else you could be happy about?
- After the answer “There is nothing else I could be happy about” is given, we moved on to the next emotion.
At the end of the “heart dump,” it was amazing how less burdensome we felt, how much more connection we experienced, and how many future arguments we avoided. Learning “I could be angry about the clothes not being washed after you’ve been home all day” really helped me dodge many unnecessary tense moments because of poor communication or unspoken expectations.
You still may go to bed angry sometimes, sometimes your feelings may just choose you. But using the “Heart Dump” on a daily basis is a fantastic tool to cleanse the heart and mind of those things that can take root and become a source of breakdown in relationships.