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The godly way to vent

Credit: sorayut via fotaliaHave you ever felt the urge to break something? To just throw things around and smash them into tiny bits? Perhaps you've seen the iconic scene from the movie Office Space where the trio of disgruntled office workers vent years of frustration on a printer and thought to yourself, "My life would be so much better if I could do that just one time." Well, if you live in one of a growing number of cities with stores like The Break Room, Tantrums LLC, and others of their kind, today is your lucky day.

These businesses exist to let you vent your "office rage"—the official term for when the people, circumstances, and responsibilities of work are simply too much to bear—in a secure, controlled environment. As Ed Hunter, founder of The Break Room in Melbourne, Australia, explained, "We're giving people permission to get angry in a safe environment." Considering that "work-related stress costs Australian business AUD$10 billion a year," according to BBC's Alison Birrane, the market clearly exists for this kind of therapy.

Clients typically pay somewhere between $20 and $100 for up to forty-five minutes of wreaking havoc on office supplies, furniture, dishes, and a virtually endless supply of other eminently breakable objects. As one client of The Anger Room in Dallas, Texas, remarked, "If there was an Anger Room on every corner, the world would be a better place."

Is he right? Does physically venting our frustration actually help us get rid of that anger? As someone who's spent more than a few evenings beating on a punching bag after a particularly frustrating day, I can say with certainty that it often feels that way. As therapist Chris Legg explains, however, such actions don't make you less angry, they just make you too tired to express that anger. Essentially, another emotion takes the anger's place, but the rage is still there.

Granted, sometimes those kinds of actions are just fun and, if done responsibly in places like The Break Room, there's nothing wrong with enjoying that. It's important to recognize, however, that the causes of your frustration still need to be addressed after the physical exertion ends. As Paul advised, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger" (Ephesians 4:26).

That phrase is frequently quoted, and for good reason, but its larger context is often overlooked. In verse 25, Paul begins by saying "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil" (Ephesians 4:25–27, emphasis added).

Essentially, Paul recognizes that when you deal with people, they will make you angry. That's simply a fact of life in this fallen world. The temptation is to either act as though you aren't angry, thereby harboring your anger for a later date, or to lash out and sin. Scripture is clear, however, that neither option honors God. Moreover, our relationships suffer greatly when issues either remain beneath the surface or are dealt with in a manner that only feeds the flames of resentment.

The Apostle gives his solution a few verses later when he writes "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31–32).

God's answer to our anger is to deal with it, but from a place of forgiveness rather than retribution and with peace as a higher priority than punishment. Granted, that's often easier said than done, but the Lord knew how hard it would be to resolve our frustrations in this manner before he called us to do it, and he stands ready to help us as we walk through that process. Will you let him?

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