When Anger Isn't Appropriate Anymore

Do you sometimes come to a space in life where you can only contemplate? Where faith and doubt slam into one another? Where you have to stand still in a brutally honest corridor? Where everything has come to a complete standstill and you are overwhelmed with your own humanity?

I'm finding a new kind of honesty right now. When I was younger in my recovery, and still sifting through the horrible awful of other people's sin and brokenness spilling over into me, I could only see them. And I honestly think that's appropriate for that kind of season.

To heal, we have to acknowledge. We have to stop defending the wrongs that have been done to us. We have to stop justifying our violations. Which means we have to get angry. Really angry. We have to feel the weight, the depth, the height of our wounds. We have to let them breathe by exposing them in any way we can. We have to talk and cry. We have to write and draw. We have to ache and grieve and cry out. We have to come crawling into safe friendships to be prayed over, wept over, and fully known. We have to relearn that it's safe to live. We have to do these things, or we'll never heal.

And then we have to take a few steps out of our anger. We have to learn to forgive - not to justify someone else's bullshit, but to not let it own us anymore. We have to stop sucking down poison and expecting them to die, right Anne Lamott? We have to move on. We have to heal and grow and change. When the time comes to step forward - you'll know. Your anger will feel stagnant. You won't feel free anymore - you'll feel trapped. You'll have to be brave, Light Bearer. It will be really hard to leave the safety of your anger. You'll want to cling to it. You'll want to go on feeling bigger than the person who made you feel miniscule. I guess you could, but then you'd get small again. Bitterness grows like a thick vine. It strangles you in the middle of the night - pulling you into oblivion. Anger, left untended, only stunts your growth. It only leaves you breathless and weak.

Forgiveness, though...

And more than that. Responsibility, friends. This is where we have to set our faces like flint. We have to steady ourselves against the Truth. We have to lean into the Kingdom that calls us to be Light Dwellers. It's here that things get hard. Sometimes, we've been a part of the problem. Sometimes not. Sometimes people flat-out crush us. Sometimes we're young and have no defense. Sometimes we're broken without having had a choice. But, often, we've played a part. My friend Chidimma says, "... at that point I'm not a victim, I'm a volunteer." Did you catch your breath? I know. There's a big difference. Forgiving someone who victimized us is a different road than forgiving someone to whom we've volunteered ourselves.

One step forward. Am I a victim? Am I a volunteer? No shame in either. Just movement. We must have movement. After the anger settles, the healing starts to reshape us - then we have to choose a path. Bitter people lead bitter lives. They find empty sentences, empty relationships and are stuck in justifying their own angry actions. Light Dwellers, who have chosen to live in an upside down Kingdom, to forgive the unforgivable, to heal and change and grow - those brave heroes, find life where you would least expect it.

I won't rush you, friend. Ever. You travel your road. When the moment you realize you're no longer a victim but a volunteer comes, choose brave. Don't spend more time there than you need to. Do the hard thing. I know you can. You're stronger than you think you are. Don't waste your soul on bitterness. It will never serve you. For just a moment it might make you feel satisfied, but it will always leave you empty and breathless in the middle of your soul's dark night.

You are a Light Bearer. Even in your own valleys. Even when you feel lost and disoriented. Even when you're tempted to get small again.

Even when anger looks more appealing than forgiveness.

Just one step forward.

*July 2013