She looked at me and expressed it, “I don’t know what to do with the anger I feel.”
I bit into the stalk of celery and wished it was cake, instead. Just like I listen to painful stories and wish they were happy ones, instead.
But life is real. And I can tell she’s sincere when she says, “I don’t feel mean; I just feel angry.”
“Rightly so,” I respond. “There’s a big difference in feeling angry or simply being mean. There’s also a huge difference in forgiveness or being able to trust.”
Christians often deny their humanity in a misguided effort for spirituality. And I can give some hurting woman a clique “christian” quote of forgiveness or I can walk with her through the toughest place of her life and own her pain.
Get this—I can allow her to throw rocks, vent it out in the car, cry buckets of tears as she owns her anger. Only then can I invite her to healing grace. Because Jesus never asked us to deny our anger; he asked us to give our anger to him.
How can we bring him something we’re too ashamed to admit we own? And why, when Christ himself was angry enough to turn tables over in the temple and tell everyone to GET OUT, do we feel inner pressure to glibly pass through the greatest wrongs with a smile on our faces and no “negative” emotion?
Christian friends, we’re hurting people in the name of healing people. In the name of loving God, we are hurting those he loves.
When we cause others to feel as if it’s too sinful to own their anger in the face of dreadful wrong, what we do, instead, is lead them to superficiality. Somehow, a shell begins to form—and this is exactly where you find rows of bench warming people with placid smiles on their faces filling up the church.
People shouldn’t have to go to a bar in order to be real.
We are human, and therefore, must come to grips with our human emotions.
I look at her sweet face and I know she’s not a mean-spirited person. Quite the opposite, actually. But, she’s been deeply hurt, and it’s painful. She’s been wronged, and it’s unfair. She’s been wounded, and she needs healing.
I want to own it for these women. I want to be at their side and say, “Wow, of course you feel anger. You should.”
Then, I want to walk with them to forgiveness without pressuring them to trust. Because forgiveness can be granted in a moment, but trust needs to be earned—and hear this, friends—if someone’s demanding trust before he or she earns it, that someone is proven even more untrustworthy. Only an unrepentant person demands what he or she doesn’t deserve.
But did you know you can forgive without placing yourself in harm’s way again? No one owes us anything, because we owe Christ everything.
We can release a person without requiring them to pay a debt they owe. Christ did that for us, and wow, aren’t we grateful? I’d be in a terrible place were it not for undeserved grace.
Can you look at someone and own your feelings about what they’ve done, then look to Christ and own your gratitude for what he’s done—and then, move on to grant your offender exactly what you’ve been granted?
Owning your anger is no excuse for lashing out, ripping into anyone with words hurtful enough to slice even a hard heart wide open.
Kinda like my daughter did yesterday when she was antagonized repeatedly by a brother who smirked annoyingly when she got mad. She’d had enough, and yelled out some pretty hurtful things that entirely demeaned his manhood.
He brushed it off, but I found him in tears later. And she needed to apologize, as did he. Two wrongs never make one wrong right.
We hear that repeatedly. But somehow, we still justify ripping each other up with words when we own our anger. We say things we don’t want recorded, replayed, or repeated to another soul.
How about saying instead, “You really wronged me, and I feel very hurt/angry about it. Is there a way we can work through this?”
How about even saying that to the Lord before you say it to the person who hurt you? Being honest with God allows release so that you can process healthily with another.
The world is all about owning and expressing feelings. If it feels good, do it; if it hurts, push it away; if it wrongs you, yell at it. If this is the best way of relating, why is the divorce rate going up, and many friendships broken rather than restored?
And, the church is all about silencing “negative” emotion in the name of only promoting love. If this is the best way, why are so many Christians superficially “happy” but not truly joyful?
Isn’t there a better way? A way for our humanity to be real, bare enough for those around us to see?
When we pretend we have no feelings, we actually enable the one who is doing us wrong. There are no negative side effects for them to face. And ourselves, well, we turn into some smiling robot who’s dying inside because denying pain allows pain to take over and slowly lead us to emotional death.
Christ owned our sin. He owned our pain. And hear this—he also owned his own anger. He’s actually not smiling down on sin as this grace-thirsty culture wants to believe.
Christ is angry with sin. He’s coming to judge it and proclaim himself victor over it. And long before he does so, he allows us to be victor over the very things that would destroy us and lead us into our own sinful responses.
No matter how spiritual you want to be, you will most certainly feel the affects of another’s sin. You will feel hurt, perhaps angry. And you should. If God is angry with something, why should you not be? And I can assure you, God is angry with sin.
His heart breaks for you, sister. Will you allow your own heart to break so it can also be mended? Because if you force yourself not to be broken, you also harden yourself to healing.
Please don’t deny yourself the right to be human in a vain attempt to be holy. Instead, own your humanity so you can respond in holiness. Christ never died for some perfect looking creation who would pretend not to feel the affects of wrong.
He came to set you free from the affects of wrong because he knew you would feel them keenly, and you’d need to own the truth, and you’d realize that you can’t lie about anything.
Owning our hurt or anger never means we rip another open with it, or because of it. We simply own it first, so we can also own grace. It’s part of the redemption story, sisters. We own our pain just as we own our sin, and only then can we be free from it.
Be honest with a Savior who pities those who fear him just as a father pities his child. Then, allow him to help you through it even as he allowed you to come to it.
From that place, you will be free to love, speak honestly but productively, and allow the world to see heaven’s grace written all over your life.
Because God is love, and love always wins.