I have shared here in this space about how I have battled my anger. How I have bared my teeth, clenched my fists, and shivered in silent fury over things that have nearly unhinged me. Anger and I have wrestled for many long years. And I generally regard it as a burden; an Achilles heel; a chink in the armor of a generally unruffled exterior. It is not something that you see acknowledged openly – much less written about in Christian circles (never mind circles of Christian women). Anger is negative. We shouldn’t do it. Anger is damaging. We should put it away from us. Anger is harmful. We should let it go.
So imagine my surprise when I clicked over to the (in)courage site the other morning and read a post by Sarah Bessey about paying attention to anger – and not so that you could hide it or let it go. Her opening salvo floored me – enough that I had to step away and come back later to read these words that were now simmering inside me:
I think it’s important to pay attention to what makes you angry. In my experience, our calling is hiding somewhere in what makes us angry.Pay attention? My calling might be there? I’ve been able to move past the “nice girls don’t get mad” phase in my life, but to take that next step and embrace the anger because it holds part of my calling? I wasn’t sure I was ready for that.
And then I took a moment to delve into those things that make me angry – the things that set me on fire – and tried to make them less personal for one moment to see if there was something more global there.
I get angry when people don’t listen to me. Listen to Me. I wrote an entire post on this. The thing that pushes my buttons. The thing that can almost break me. What about the people out there – for me specifically – what about the women and children who are in unimaginable situations whose cries for help are not being heard? This encompasses one of my huge issues to advocate for: human trafficking. But also includes issues like domestic violence and global poverty.
I get angry when I don’t have enough money for things. This isn’t just “I can’t get a new pair of shoes,” but when we’re (still) in a situation of having to choose between things like “do I get this prescription or do I pay this bill?” And right there – I’m still better off than a huge percentage of the world because I’m going somewhere to get a prescription written for me and I have a bill that needs to be paid. What about the millions who have little or no access to basic healthcare and the millions more who don’t have essentials like clean water or enough to eat?
I get angry when someone tries to bully me. Now let me be honest, this is a rarity these days. And I’m grateful for that. At first glance, I’m not a woman who looks to be trifled with. I wish I could say that this had much to do with my tremendous physical shape and bearing, but my husband is convinced it has more to do with the look in my eyes than the look of my biceps. I’m not a small woman, and apparently if you catch me in the midst of the right temperament (angry anyone?), you’ll be likely to clear a path rather than deal with what I’m handing out. But once again, what about those women who – for whatever reason – are being bullied. Who have the look in their eye that allows others to trifle with them? Who have lost so much hope and a sense of self that they are at the mercy of predators who eagerly look for carrion because they themselves have nothing – are nothing – and therefore must take what scraps they can from others.
Anger is only the starting point, of course, the invitation: Christ sustains the passion and directs it into life-giving transformation.What begins in the white heat of anger can burst into the passionate flames of commitment and transformation. Even more so if you have had any kind of experience with the things that you become passionate about. I have not been in all of the difficult circumstances for which I advocate for, but I have been that woman.
I work now where I can, to advocate, shine a light, and raise money and awareness. I write for Exodus Road. I share for the End It Movement. I contribute and share for Mercy House Kenya. I support the efforts of World Vision. My goals for transformation are larger than this – the Lord knows where my heart wanders when I dream – but I will take these steps one at a time.
And in taking these steps, I become less fearful of my anger, and more willing to see it as a catalyst for the change I want to see.
What is it that makes you angry?
What calling is buried within that anger?
And once you’ve thought about that, what are you going to do about it?
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I'm joining Simply Beth for her Three Word Wednesday link up and am looking forward to getting to know this circle of writers. For this link up, choose three words; share a post, photo, or scripture that highlights those three words; link up here; and share some encouragement and blog love with other writers.