Anger and Fear
I've learned so many things about myself in the last year and a half. You'd think that would make writing easier. But this is a blog, not a book (as I'm sure some of you are thinking as you read through some of my longer posts, lol), and I sometimes struggle to separate a nugget of truth from the large conglomeration in my heart.
I have begun writing so many times about fear. That word takes on a different meaning for me than it does for most others. You've probably figured that out about me. I really do think differently. It helps me so much in counseling others. People get all wrapped up in their normal reaction to something and can't see their way through the fog. I can clearly see the way out for them, because I don't think the same way. God helps me to help them.
But, sometimes for myself, I'm a little slow. I know what the normal thing to feel would be. But I am not quite nailing that. Okay, perhaps that is an understatement. I'm on another planet.
There are trials in life that are unavoidable. Like an unhappy medical diagnosis. Or a bad storm that knocked down a tree onto your roof. The things that have not been caused by human hands. I find those things to be easier to trust God in, just for the simple fact that there is no human element involved. No 'what if I'd...', or 'if only they'd...'. It's obvious God sent it, so the responsibility for it is all on God. That makes it easier for me.
But sometimes our trials are caused by other people or even ourselves. That's where the 'what ifs' come in. What if I'd done something differently? What if they had not been so careless? Or mean? Or cruel? What if...
When bad things happen to people, and those things are caused by the selfishness or meanness or ill will of another person, the normal human response is to get angry. Anger. It's not even always sinful. Jesus was angry when He saw the money changer in the temple. We call it righteous indignation, because that sounds better. But He was angry. And so anger in itself can't be a sin. Jesus never sinned. It's our reaction to that anger that is sinful.
Read Matthew 21:12-13. Jesus did not respond in the flesh. He just did what was right. He did what was pleasing to the Father. He overturned the tables and chased the wrongdoers out of the place of worship. He responded without sin. What an example He left us. The proper response. The non-sinful way.
But that's not normally how we respond to anger. We respond in the flesh. And usually quickly, without thinking. Before our brain is fully engaged. Before a spiritual thought can even form. We react. We give someone a piece of our minds. We do something back to them. We cause even more damage. We scream about how unfairly we have been treated. We retaliate. We talk. All normal. All sinful.
Let's recap. When we've been wronged, we get angry. When we get angry, we react. Usually quickly and with little thought. We get in the flesh. We do wrong.
I'm not going to talk about anger today. That's for another day. I'm just setting it up. I'm pulling the parts out of the conglomeration in my heart. Remember? :)
When I have been treated badly, I have a hard time with anger. But not in the way you would think. I don't have a difficult time with being angry; I have trouble feeling it at all. I can't find it. Because it's just not there. So weird. I spent a year of my life trying to find anger so I could deal with it. I decided that I must be in denial. HUGE denial. So then I searched for the denial so I could deal with that so I could find the anger so I could deal with that and get better! You follow? It gets complicated in my head!!!
And then, after over a year of having myself on the shrink's couch (in my head), God gave me the answer that I so desperately needed. I heard myself tell someone out loud that I don't think like other people. Then it occurred to me that perhaps I should listen to myself. If not anger, then what, Lord? Who is this giant with whom I wrestle? If not anger, what?
And then I heard it. It was a small soft voice on the phone. The voice was my own. I had spoken in a moment of brokenness. I don't share much. It was a big deal that I was sharing at all. But the person with whom I was speaking did not know that. And he did not know the significance of what I said. I almost missed it myself. But many weeks later, God brought it to mind, just when I needed it.
"You know, I'm not really as brave as I look."
That's it! Finally! I had said that in November. I remembered it in January. God gave me what I needed.
It was fear. Fear, not anger. FEAR! I react in fear.
You might think that fear sounds more noble than anger. Ha! Go ahead and think that if you want. Make me feel better about myself. But it will only be a flash, because I know the truth. The reaction to fear- MY fear- is more sinful than your reaction to anger. A least that's how I see it. It's just that fear is quieter.
Anger causes a person to act. Usually unwisely. But they act. They do something. Something as in a verb. Something others can see or hear.
Fear causes a person to freeze. To become paralyzed. Unable to do. Unable to function. Unable to think. Unable to pray. Frozen.
The only good thing about the way that I react is that there is less mess to clean up afterwards. But fleshly reaction to fear is just as sinful as fleshly reaction to anger. Probably worse.
That kind of fear causes so many bad things. But the worst of it is that there is no trust of God in fear. "Perfect love casteth out fear". (1 John 4:18) That's God's love. So in my state of fear, I couldn't be comforted by God. He was far away. I had moved. Not Him. Me. I had paralyzed myself in fear. And that's a very terrible state. Cold and stark and lonely. A place of terror. A place of total weakness and brokenness.
And then God showed me. He had finally gotten me where He wanted me all along. My darkest hour. I wrestled with God in January. Literally. Making animal noises in a fetal position. I was afraid that God would touch my thigh and I'd be crippled again. Seriously, I thought that. I was broken and empty and weak. And in that state of weakness, I surrendered to Him. Surrender like I'd never known before. And this website was born.
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." ~2 Corinthians 12:9
I've barely skimmed the surface. I just set them up so we can knock them down later. Like bowling. :) Just broken apart the conglomeration a bit. Now we can start looking at it. So many Scriptures. This stuff is life changing. Or, at least it changed mine!
By the way, let me just say, in case you never see the follow up posts, that God is just as much in the trials caused by human hands as He is in the ones brought by Him alone. Just sayin'. :)