Warning: this is not one of my usual posts about the goings ons of life in Gulfport, Mississippi, but rather a little insight to what's heavy on my mind and heart tonight. As this year is spent in service and spiritual development, I add it here most just to get it off my own mind, but also to let you (those who support and love me) know that there is more going on in my life down here than drywall, shingles, and insulation.
Tonight my housemate Brenna led our little Mississippi family in a bible study on the emotion of anger. A discussion ensued over how God calls us to treat those with whom we are angry: whether we should be patient and wait for God to take vengeance or if we should proceed with kindness, love and forgiveness. That is, when we’re angry do we just give that anger up to God knowing that She’ll get those nasty suckers back for us, or should we treat those nasty suckers with kindness anyway because God’s really above all that punishment stuff?
I don’t know. None of us did. I’d guess that no one really knows. That’s one of the reasons why we’re constantly over analyzing the bible like a bunch of women gossiping over coffee. There are too many stories to suggest that either approach is appropriate and holy and all that jazz.
God’s given us brains, conversations, stories, examples, experiences and many, many lessons, but still so many of us find ourselves drowning in anger and confusion over what to do with those with whom we're angry.
For most of my life I’ve felt nearly consumed by anger. I've been angry at myself, my parents, my teachers, my friends, my church, my community, my co-workers, my government, my sister, and even at God herself for all of the pain and suffering and senselessness She allows among her children.
As I was silently (yes, it happens occasionally) grappling with these thoughts, Brenna wisely pointed out that our anger is so often bound tightly with our love. We’re angry with children who put themselves in danger because we don’t want to see them hurt. We’re angry with politicians who don’t clean up our cities because we want our neighborhoods to thrive. We’re angry with friends who disappoint us because we share so much joy in their successes. We’re angry with organizations who fail us because we are clinging to the hope of what they might accomplish.
I have so many memories of talking with my sisters for hours over the anger that caused the most pain for much of my life- my relationship with my little sister. The thought that all of those conversations about anger, frustration and hurt really coming from a place of love had never entered my mind until my little sister died and I immediately began hating myself for all of the anger. During those first few hours, one of the wisest women I know, who'd talked through the situation with me over the years, shared with me that all of my angry words about my little sister had always struck her with a sense of love.
This now takes me to my present anger, focused on God for allowing the hurt, pain and sorrow that exists in my heart and in God's world. The anger that God removed any chance I’ll ever have of reconciling with my sister. The anger over the idea that God would allow a young child to be raised without knowing the mother who birthed her. The anger towards a God who would allow entire communities to be washed away by storm, war, or famine. What if all that anger also comes from love? From wanting to know, understand, and love God more closely and clearly? Maybe then, all this anger I have stored up is actually exactly the what will bring me closer to fully loving God. Maybe, in my all anger, I already do.
Tonight I am thankful for God's constant love, even when I am angry with her.