Anger


pathSometimes, you have to pull back.  You need to stop talking and listen.  You need to stop producing (and consuming), and just be.  And many times, you need to process things on your own and not post it all over Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.  This, I have found to be especially true in the Season I have been in since winter.

My last post I shared I was angry, and then I went AWOL—at least from my blog. I let my heart process. I let myself be angry, and in many areas I allowed myself to let go.  I also realized that I was trying to use this blog as a means to replace a job that I once felt was woven into the very fabric of my being.  So I stepped back, and felt for the first time in my life, what it is to not have a “role,” and not have “giving” or “striving” be my identity. I have felt free from the lie our culture tells us that our profession/paycheck is our identity and our worth, all wrapped up in one. And I am slowly seeing:

I am more than what I do for a living, and so are you. We all are.

In all of this time “off,” I have felt much of my anger dissipate and forgiveness take root. It has taken a lot of prayer, some grieving, and some painstaking letting go.  And, if I am completely honest, I am not “cured.” Some things, when remembered, still bring a boiling anger to the surface—but it is much more short-lived, and much more easily handed over again in prayer.

I return to you today, because I want to share an observation from my journey with anger. It all centers on one of those questions that I just haven’t been able to let go. One of my main frustrations and questions for God during this season has been “why?”  Why did He allow me to be in a place where I was mistreated and not SEEN for who I really am? (Why did I allow myself to be mistreated?) I have asked this over and over again.

Then, today, as I sat in a Starbucks (I joke that it is my new office), with a former student, telling her the crazy story about how I was hired at the job that brought me to Pennsylvania, introduced me to some of the most special students/people I have ever known, and was also the place of some of my greatest pain (and some of my anger), I realized something HUGE.

It was all for GOOD.

There was a lot of good that came out of the past nine years—more good than the bad, more good than pain. When you come to the end of all of your anger and lack of understanding the past, and you see more good than bad, there is a lot of peace. When you look back and realize that even in the places of pain, God was sowing good, you can’t help but stand in awe. It doesn’t undo what has been done, nor repair all of the relationships that have been frayed, but it does make the journey worth it. It does make you stand in that place in your heart where you have been thrashing around and crying “why?” and instead, begin to lift your hands and voice in worship.

When you journey with God through your anger, rather than allowing it to rot into bitterness, it is amazing what He shows you. It is amazing the gifts he gives, even when we are still struggling to unclench our fists. He shows up, even when we don’t want to. He guides us through the anger, even in the moments where we don’t want to deal with it. And if we are patient (with ourselves), He brings us through to places of healing.

As I said, I am not finished with this journey and there are still unresolved questions. But today I feel like one of them was answered. Today, I feel His peace.

scream

Sitting on the couch, sick for almost two weeks, has definitely given me a lot of time to think. Though I have distracted myself with a lot of reading on how to make the perfect whole wheat bread and with the happenings of Downton Abbey, there has been one thing that I haven’t been able to fully distract myself from.

On one of our first nights home, after spending the Holidays with family, I woke up in the middle of the night, ANGRY. I had had a dream that I was back in one of the unhealthy places of my past, and unable to get out. Then, as I looked around our dark bedroom, I sensed God say something to me, to the effect of:

You have moved away from that old way of living, that is no longer your story.

I put my head back onto the pillow, and fell into a very peaceful sleep. His beautiful, life-giving words stuck with me over the next few days. However, rather than continuing to give me peace as they initially did, they began to uncover something else.

Inside, I am ANGRY.

There are parts of my story, my life, that I wish weren’t a part of my story. Things that have been said to me, ways that I have been made to feel small, and people who I respected who treated me poorly. There are systems that have let me down. And ways that my voice has either been silenced or ignored.

As God said, it is no longer my story, I am not in those places anymore. But I think what gets me the most, is that for so long I thought I wasn’t allowed to be angry. I wasn’t allowed to question. I wasn’t allowed to disagree. So, I kept swallowing my thoughts and my pain. I kept allowing myself to be treated unfairly.

We live in a culture where “common knowledge” says that we as females are better at communication than men, because we have been encouraged since birth to express our feelings. Yet I would disagree. Yes, we have been encouraged to express many feelings, but we haven’t been taught how to express Anger.

In fact, as women, we have been taught that being angry, isn’t attractive. I know many women, myself included, who are afraid to be categorized as feminists for the very reason that they don’t want to be seen as angry, bitter, or divisive. Sure, it is socially acceptable for a mother to get all “Momma-Bear” angry on behalf of her child, but ask that same woman to get angry when she has been mistreated, and it won’t be as easy.

Very few of us have been told that can be good, and even right at times, for us to get upset. And I would guess even fewer of us have been taught how to speak on our own behalf. We struggle with confrontation. We fear it, when it involves defending ourselves.

I look back at the things of my past that I wish weren’t mine, and I am angry that I couldn’t be angry. I am upset that so often I chose to maintain harmony in unhealthy relationships, rather than speak the truth–rather than speak on my own behalf. I am angry because I chose to stay in unhealthy situations longer than I should have. And yet:

That is no longer my story.

It is no longer my future. I have moved away from my old way of doing things, and I am learning new (and hopefully healthier) ways of living. But, what do I do with this anger?

It feels like an important piece of the journey towards Change. It is something I have to name, before I can learn how to express it and then move through it. Anger is not a place I want to stay, and yet dealing with it is new to me.

So, over the past few days, metaphorically, I have been picking up my anger in my hands, like one would do with mud. I have been picking it up, and holding it out to the One who is promising me more. I have been saying:

“What do I do with this anger? And what does it look like to forgive?”

As I have been sick the past few weeks and dealing with the uncovering of my anger, it has been difficult to blog. Please forgive my erratic posts, and know that I will return more regularly soon!