But what if you’re born angry?

My mom always said that I was born angry. She would tenderly tease that I was really a Viking, because from my earliest of days I had a short fuse and sharp tongue. Of course, my teenage feelings about her perspective on my temperament was along the lines of “Whatever…it’s your problem not mine!”  That was until I came to see how my anger negatively impacted my friendships, created havoc at work, and put a strain on my marriage right from the beginning.

The Way God Made Me is Good

I entered into counseling to work through my “anger issues” and came to the conclusion that my behavior was a result of my environment and upbringing, and the solution was simply to manage my life better so that my fuse wouldn’t run short. I discovered my irritability triggers, like too little sleep, being hungry, not getting through my to-do list, last minute change of plans, and did my best to manage my lifestyle in order to avoid an explosion.

But see, while I could “control” my time, I couldn’t control others — especially when those “others” happened to be my children. Managing triggers simply wasn’t enough when it came to avoiding my anger issues with my kids. And no matter how much I prayed and read my Bible, it seemed that my desire for the “gentle and quiet spirit” escaped my grasp. While I looked like the perfect Christian wife and momma on the outside, my heart was filled with disappoint and condemnation knowing how often I fell short behind closed doors.

By God’s grace, my husband called me out on my ugly behavior at the same time the Lord was calling me to investigate the state of my heart.

That’s when I ended up in counseling and poignantly discovered the essence of what was in my heart and giving way to what was coming out of my mouth (Matthew 12:33-35).  My heart was stored up with unforgiveness toward my parents, bitterness over the dysfunction of my childhood, regret and shame over my rebellious years, fear of failure and a pursuit of perfection and people pleasing.

Yes, I was a mess and needed a spiritual heart transplant. By God’s grace, that’s exactly what He did. He healed my heart of every wound and made room for His love to fill every nook and cranny.

But was that enough to make my anger go away?

Yes. And no.  The change in my heart led to a radical transformation in my behavior over the next few years. Enough of a change that my older girls noticed the difference and would comment, “Mom, why are you getting angry now? You don’t do that any more!”   But still, there was this part of me, on the inside, that wanted to rise up and spew ugly all too often and I’ve finally figured out why.

I was born this way. I was born angry !!

Not angry, as my mom thought. It’s way more complicated than that. I believe God has wired me up like the poster-child for the Choleric personality, which means I like to get things done, I see vision, I understand how to orchestrate situations to accomplish goals. Those are the lovely strengths of the Choleric. It’s the weaknesses, however, that seem to cause the problem, such as becoming easily angered, tending to use anger to manipulate, frustrations when things don’t move along fast enough, and pre-occupation with achievement.

The way God made me is good — but if I’m not yielded to Him with my strengths and weaknesses, I’ll make a mess of my life and my relationships.Tweet: The way God made us is good! But if we're not yielded to Him, we'll make a mess of our lives. http://ctt.ec/01v3X+ @elisapulliam

The fact is that I will always have a propensity toward anger, much like Paul’s thorn in his side. But by God’s grace, anger doesn’t have to control me.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me, I can walk in step with the Spirit — sensitive to my triggers and surrendering to God my issues and frustrations —  as I grow in trusting God with the things that seem to make me the most crazy. 

This trusting-God-thing and looking at life from an eternal-perspective really does help keep me calmer! And I know it can help you, too. I pray that if you’re a born-angry sister, you’ll find hope in knowing that God made you for a good purpose, too.  It’s time to embrace how you’re made as you seek God for any healing you need in your wounded heart and for the Holy Spirit to come alive within you, so that you may walk in His ways, especially as a mom whose kids may one day say, “Mom, you don’t get angry like that any more!”

For more encouragement on how to overcome angry, come by elisapulliam.com.

This post is part of the month-long challenge From Grouchy…To Great.  Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

From Grouchy…To Great

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  1. Claire says

    Oh boy does this hit home. I totally relate. I have tried the lifestyle management approach, but it never quite works because there are so many aspects of my environment that are beyond my control. I hope that I will be able to be transformed the way you were.

    • Elisa Pulliam says

      Claire, don’t give up. Seek out a help (a pastor, christian counselor, godly older friend) as you allow God to do the transforming work in you!

  2. Brittany Sanchez says

    I got here through a pin of your quote. Thank you so much for those words! My daughter gets very easily distracted and therefore often has to be reminded several times of what she’s supposed to be doing. She gets so frustrated with herself and says she’s stupid and bad. It breaks my heart for her! I am eager to get this made for their room so she can remember that God made her just the way He wanted her–with her own set of strengths and weaknesses and that only He can help her manage both!

    • Elisa Pulliam says

      Oh, Brittany, what a beautiful gift to give your daughter. I never thought of how these words could apply to our children, too, but they most certainly do!

  3. Amber says

    Love this!! Probably one of the best things my parents did for me as a junior high student, was sit me down and teach me about the different personality types. They saw how demanding, bossy and mean I was and knew if I understood that it was ok that I was made that way, BUT with the guidance of the Holy spirit, I could use this weakness as a strength. I cannot tell you how much that helped me navigate thru my adolescent year, college days and now in my marriage, motherhood and ministry.
    And of course we know, that nothing would ever get done right, without a few of us cholerics in the world. ;o)

    • Elisa Pulliam says

      Amen, Amber! And praise the Lord for the way your parents guided you with your personality, as I’m sure others would, too. If you’d ever like to share a guest post at moretobe.com on that topic, let me know!

    • Elisa Pulliam says

      Amber, thank you so much for sharing your story. Praise God for their wisdom in teaching you about your personality and the working of the Holy Spirit!

  4. Satin P says

    Wow! This was awesome! Loved that you captured, in picture form, your quote: ”

    The way God made me is good — but if I’m not yielded to Him with my
    strengths and weaknesses, I’ll make a mess of my life and my
    relationships.” Wowee… this is so true & applies directly to me! Thank you for being vulnerable & in doing so, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to me and others too! ♥

    • Elisa Pulliam says

      Satin, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. It encourages me to know God used these words of mine to encourage you.

  5. Elissa Philgence says

    Hi Elisa

    Wonderful message. Thank you for showing me that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. So many times as christian we hide behind God and don’t take the time to listen to Him and His direction for our lives.

    I believe God as the power to heal us from angry and all our mess-ups, but I also believe that He guide us to people, professionals, to help us heal. Seek Him first and He will guide our path.

    Thank you for being real.

    • Elisa Pulliam says

      Elissa, I appreciate your support and your encouragement. It means so much to me. May we be real together!

  6. Beth says

    Thank you. I needed this today. For a minute there when I was reading the article in my inbox, I thought you were writing about me! :-)

    • Elisa Pulliam says

      Beth, I promise — it was all my story! But I know what you mean. May you find the hope I’ve found in Christ, too!

  7. Diane says

    Of my 4, I have one child who is really quick to anger (I feel bad saying that as he’s literally sitting on the couch smiling right now). He’s always been that way. When he was 2, I went to counseling because I was scared of him. He would pretend to come for a hug, then bite a chunk out of me. I’ve been trying to make a point to know his triggers (he’s like the snickers commercial…there’s not talking to him when he’s hungry). And he needs to feel involved in making decisions (at age 5, yes). Its still a struggle, but I don’t want to label him as my angry child.
    Now, my last was born smiling. Not even kidding….no cry, but a big’ol’smile. We call him Smilo Milo.

    • Elisa Pulliam says

      Diane, you are so wise to have sought out help, and I encourage you to continue to do so if you feel like your son’s anger makes mothering him all the more challenging. But it sounds like you have a sense of what he needs — like being heard — and that’s awesome. God has equipped you to be his, and smilo milo’s, mom for a very good reason!

  8. Kathy Vink says

    Thank you for such a honest post. As I was reading it, I felt as though someone else was just like me!! I struggle with this everyday. And everyday, I try to put it all at the cross but my pride steps in. Thank you for helping me to see that I am not alone! Healing takes time….God bless!! xxoo

  9. Jami says


    When I read these words…. “My heart was stored up with unforgiveness toward my parents, bitterness over the dysfunction of my childhood, regret and shame over my rebellious years, fear of failure and a pursuit of perfection and people pleasing”…. I felt like perhaps you had peeked into my heart and mind. I don’t admit that I feel those things to anyone; to myself. But when I take time to try and focus on why I am so angry, frustrated, short-tempered, unhappy, discontent, I seem to find a lot of my answers in those areas (parents, childhhood, rebellious years). I’ve been through years and years of clinical depression and anti-depressants, trying to figure out why I am so unhappy; why I take it out on others. I feel like I’ve asked for God to help me, to show me, to heal me. But I wonder if I truly have handed all that pain and whatnot over to Him. I don’t think I have, because I battle my anger and impatience every.single.day. I have such “control” issues and I hate asking for help. Perhaps one day I will learn.

    Thank you for the encouragement. I hope to be able to hand my anger over to God and become a better mom and wife.

    • Elisa Pulliam says

      Jami, thank you so much for sharing your heart. Know that it is a journey — a process — one step, one at a time. Continue to take those steps forward and, by God’s grace and power at work in you, you’ll see change. And if you need help to continue to walk, seek out that help…even knew help. You can contact Focus on the Family for recommendations of Christian counselors in your area. I’ll be praying for your healing journey.

  10. Amanda says

    Um this is totally me. Right down to the dysfunctional family I grew up in, to the bitterness I had held against my mom. I would even joke that I was a Viking because of my Norwegian blood. I’m a task oriented, visionary that gets frustrated when people “get in my way.” I’m not saying I’ve found breakthrough but the lord has been healing my heart. Now that I have two kids I have much more grace and sympathy for my mom. I feel a real freedom from that bitterness. Thank you for sharing. I pray for complete breakthrough in Jesus’ name.

  11. Jenna says

    Hi Elisa,

    I too thank you for sharing this. I still puzzle at why I struggle so much with anger. As time passes, i do think i am wired this way as a fellow choleric. But I can also link it to bitterness, my past, unresolved healing in my heart. Do you think seeking healing through programs like Celebrate Recovery prove to be effective in this process or is a personal counselor better?


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