I’ve been wrestling with anger lately. It’s a latent, low grade anger that’s been resting under the surface, just outside of my awareness, but which is now surfacing.
This is due to my habit of stuffing hurts, trying to push through, keep the peace, avoid conflict and do what’s right. Or, what seemed right.
As I’ve spent time praying, asking Him to show me anything that hinders me, He’s has been faithful to do it – little by little.
Who of us could handle everything all at once?
Anger about what, you ask?
There’s no sense in detailing it, because, honestly, we’d be here a long time and it’s all simply a product of people being imperfectly human. It’s nothing that isn’t common to us all. Nothing I’ve experienced is special or unique.
The bottom line of it is that I’m angry that I’ve spent most of my life trying to be someone other than who I’m supposed to be. Various things along the way knocked me further and further off track, until I don’t even know who I am.
Am I supposed to follow what I feel God speaking to me or what’s expected of me? Am I supposed to avoid rocking the boat or not? Should I try to be invisible to avoid the pain of rejection or get thicker skin?
I am reminded of the movie, About Schmidt. It’s about a man, Warren Schmidt, who has a bad case of latent anger.
After retiring from years at a job he doesn’t really love, his wife suddenly passes away.
As the story unfolds, Warren discovers a painful secret his wife had been keeping from him, and years of resentments begin to surface – including the fact that his wife always made him sit down on the toilet to use the bathroom. She didn’t want the mess, so she trained him not to make a mess.
In a moment of defiance, he walks into the bathroom and goes crazy, spraying every surface as he relieves himself, laughing like a mad man.
He had been going along to get along, all the while resenting the attack on his independence and his personhood. And he was so done with that.
Sorry for the gross image and analogy, but…
I don’t want to end up like Warren Schmidt because I’ve been trying to please anyone other than God, or because I have spent my life trying to be what I can never be.
I want to go ahead and deal with whatever is brooding under the surface. I want God to have full access to my heart, every room and dark corner.
Whatever we don’t deal with will eventually turn and eat us for lunch. Or make us do things we’ll later regret (like destroying the bathroom).
Anger is usually justified, initially, but often it becomes a safe alternative to feeling sadness. I say safe because it allows us to focus on the offender rather than take a look at what we are feeling. It’s a way to mitigate pain.
Rejection, belittlement, abuse, neglect, loss, or whatever has come your way, or mine, hurts. We have a choice to deal with it head on or choose to avoid it.
I’m a classic avoider.
The thing I want to share is that I’m discovering the way to wholeness in Christ is directly through the wilderness.
And when I say directly, I mean zig-zaggy, circling the same mountain, north to south back to the north to the east and back again. It’s not a straight line.
The wilderness has been a lonely place where I’m learning to depend on God for every single thing. It’s where I learn to acknowledge my own pain, anger, confusion, hypocrisy, pride, desires, sin, temptation, and every other thing under the sun. It requires complete honesty. I’ve had few tantrums along the way.
We’re safe with Him. Jesus has also been tempted in every way. He’s done the wilderness thing already – fought his demons and won.
Wilderness is where we go to fight our demons, too, and we don’t fight alone. You need an answer? He has it for you.
I think what I’m ultimately mad about is that I was thrown so far off course by things which were completely outside of my control. It wasn’t my choice. I didn’t ask for this crap.
But isn’t that the condition of all humanity, to some extent? Thrown from the womb into an unpredictable world, we all get redirected from what God intends for us, to greater or lesser degrees.
We don’t have a choice about that. But we do get to choose how we will respond. We aren’t helpless, as adults.
The wilderness is an invitation to return to original design and to the ultimate promise of wholeness. But, it’s only an invitation. We are the ones who must accept and begin the journey.
If you want a free heart and a clean bathroom, accept the invitation – you won’t be left alone. He is here. And there are a whole bunch other people out here, too.
Don’t stay stuck in your pain or anger or confusion. Find out who he really is and who you really are. And then be that.
We’re all out here cheering you on.