I don’t cry often. When life is challenging I generally default to anger. On the fight-or-flight spectrum, I certainly lean far to the “fight” side. When my life feels out of control, and nothing seems to be going my way, I fight for control and I usually wind up feeling exhausted, defeated, and angry.
Friends, can I be bare and candid with you? That’s what I have been recently. Angry.
There have been so many life changes in the last year that my head is spinning. Lack of sleep compiled with even more changes in the last six weeks have thrown me into a desperate attempt to somehow regain control. In my futile efforts, I have been angry…a lot. And in my anger I’ve been short-tempered, rude, and sometimes downright mean to the people that matter most to me.
I’ve been asking God to make me feel better; to take away my angry feelings. I’ve been asking God to show up and remind me that He’s with me, and to show me some glimmer of hope that He hasn’t forgotten my plight; that He sees, and hears, and cares, and is working.
But secretly I’ve been blaming God for my feelings. I’ve bought into the lie that He is the cosmic-kill joy and has left me alone in my anger without care or compassion.
I’ve been begging God to fix the circumstances in my life that I’m so frustrated by.
During my time pouring over God’s word, Ephesians 4:31-32 struck me like a knife:
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
It turns out that God doesn’t want to fix my circumstances as much as He wants to fix my heart, and that I have a responsibility to choose how I react when I don’t like what’s going on.
God is a gentleman. And like a parent observing their child throwing a temper tantrum, God has been with me, allowing me to throw my tantrum. All the while, He’s been waiting for me to let go of the anger. He didn’t make me feel this way. I’m a sinner. I’m capable of terrible things, and hurting people, and hurting myself, and running away from the God I love dearly.
This morning, He quietly stepped in my space and told me, “I have not made you feel this way. You have been choosing to hold onto it.”
Reality check. A harsh one. A needed one.
God’s discipline and correction always comes from a heart of love. He hasn’t enjoyed me feeling burdened and angry. He hasn’t relished me squirming through life’s challenges and stresses. But I have to be willing to take ownership of how I deal with circumstances I don’t particularly like. Do I run to Him first and choose to trust in His good name, character, and proven faithfulness? Or do I fight for control and wind up angry, exhausted, and deafened to the voice of love of my heavenly father?
Today I choose to take off the old, dirty rags of anger, bitterness, resentment, and frustration, and I fix my eyes upon Jesus.
Today I choose to put on thankfulness for all that I have to celebrate in my life; thankfulness that wages war on my frustrations.
I put on joy in the unchanging character of my God.
I put on peace as I trust in His goodness and good will towards me.
If we are sons and daughters of the Living God, believing in the reality of the life, death, and resurrection of His son, Jesus, then we are no longer slaves to our former selves. We do not have to be bound by anger, by fear, by the need to control in the midst of stress and frustrations. We can live free, run hard, and love strong, trusting in the great love of our God that carries us through it all.
I hope that you will start your week of right and join me in letting go of the old and putting on the new.