Posted in Faith

It’s Easier to Be Angry

It has felt like my prayers are “bouncing off the ceiling,” as they say. My journal, normally filled with long, sprawling, written prayers and copied Bible verses, has only been sparsely notated – dutiful entries, sometimes only one line, containing the date and a reference to the scripture passage I read. I’ve felt lonely during my times with the Lord. The times that are normally my water…have felt kind of empty and dry.

What’s going on? The scriptures hold a key.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Mark 11:25 NIV

“‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6:12-15 NIV

I’ve lost a friend, and it feels a bit like a bad break-up. Day after day, my bitterness and anger linger. They fester, and grow. I dwell on all the negatives; the hurtful things she has said and done. Meanwhile, the good memories from before – from when I thought she was like a sister – fade and almost disappear. Eventually I convince myself that surely, I was wrong about her. Surely, our latest interactions prove who she really is. Who she really was, all along.

I know that God requires me to forgive her. I’ve asked Him to help me do this, but haven’t made much progress. There’s a song by the Dixie Chicks that could have been written about me in times like these:

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell, and I don’t have time
To go ’round and ’round and ’round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is
You think I should

“Not Ready to Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks

Truth be told, though, I don’t want to stay here. I can’t. So I asked the Lord one evening: What is holding me back? Why can I not forgive?

A perplexing thought immediately came to mind: It’s easier to hang on to the anger.

Easier? Easier than what?

Than remembering the good times.

Why?

Because you must face your grief. You must mourn what you have lost.

The tears flowed, and they flow again even as I write this. Yes, facing the hurt and loss and mourning that things may never be the same between us again, is harder than rehashing the things I am angry about. Sometimes we think that anger is strong. But in actuality, it requires more strength to turn from anger than it does to remain in it.

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.”

Psalm 37:8 NIV

“‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV

And yet, that is what I must do. I must remember her for the laughter. The times we prayed for each other. Brought each other food. Watched and loved each other’s kids. All of that was real. Those memories can soften my heart, temper my harsh feelings, and allow me to view her in a balanced way.

In all relationships, you will eventually see both the good and the bad of a person. To be accepted in the fullness of yourself – in all of the good, and all of the bad – is an act of grace. If you have experienced this yourself, you know how great it feels. If you truly know Christ, you have experienced this grace. And He expects you to extend it to others.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

James 3:9-10 NIV

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV

At church recently, my pastor reminded us from the pulpit that our forgiveness of others is one way we show the world what Jesus is like. Is Jesus full of anger, resentment, and offense? Does He never let go of our sins? That hasn’t been my experience of Him. And as His follower, I desire to show others that He is someone they would want to get to know.

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse,

nor will he harbor his anger forever;

he does not treat us as our sins deserve

or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Psalm 103:8-12 NIV

Maybe things have permanently changed between my friend and I, and we need to go our separate ways. Maybe things will never be the same. Then again, maybe they will be someday. She’s still my sister in Christ, so perhaps when we get to Heaven, God will sit us both down (the two unruly daughters that we are), and talk us through our rivalry. Whatever the case, for the time being, I can love her from afar, and remain open to the possibility of reconciliation. It’s what I hope she will do for me.

What do you do when you experience divisions within the family of Christ? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!

Warm wishes,

Lisa

Author:

Hi, I'm Lisa, a born-and-bred-in-Manitoba mom of 2 boys. Having lived in 7 different Manitoba towns or cities, I've managed to stay warm in them all 😜❄. I am trained as a music therapist but currently work as a fulltime stay-at-home-mom by day, and a piano teacher in the evenings. By night, well...I sleep. Usually.

16 thoughts on “It’s Easier to Be Angry

  1. Oh Lisa! I know this pain more than you realize. About 6 years ago we got “kicked out” of a church by people whom we trusted and loved dearly (they brought us to the Lord, did our marriage counselling and even married us). It was hands down the most painful experience of my life. Immediately I tried to forgive but the hurtful words they had spoken against me, the false accusations they had made and the pain just kept coming. I was hopeless, really. I wanted to forgive – I wanted it more than anything, but I just felt so wronged! Then to top it off, me best friend in the church was told not to associate with me any longer and instead of standing up for me as I thought she would, she “submitted” to her leaders. I didn’t know if I could ever trust anyone again.
    But I stumbled upon a book called “The Bait of Satan” by John Brevere. Maybe you’ve heard of him?
    Anyways, the words in that book spoke to my soul and brought so much healing. (I own it if you’d like to borrow…)

    Shortly afterwards at a Set Free retreat, Stefan shared about his Dad being handed a four page letter listing everything “wrong with him” by leaders in the church and how it caused him so much bitterness – and how he was freed from that. I wept like a baby, because the story was almost exactly like what had happened to me, except in my case they took it further and “removed me from fellowship”. Anyway, lots of rambling here, I know.

    All that to say, thank you for sharing and I will pray for you in your journey to forgiveness. It took many years but I finally have peace and freedom. I can see and talk about these people without feeling resentment and pain because God used it for GOOD! Seeking forgiveness, though was essential in my healing. If I had not done so, I fear that I would still be in a dark prison of bitterness, hurting myself more than anyone.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow, I can’t even imagine what that must have been like Heather. Thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s amazing that you were able to completely forgive so many people for so much. I hope that I can forgive this one. Thank you for your prayers and sure, I’ll borrow the book sometime!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am sorry about the loss of your friendship. I like that you reminded yourself that all the good was still there and it was good. I find it so easy to make those times seem bad too to make it right in my head, but I agree with your conclusion. It is easier to be angry than to face the grief and the loss of the relationship. I will be thinking of this in relation to the ill feelings or grudges I may still hold against others and use the wisdom of your scriptures and thought to help me mourn the loss and move to forgiveness!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I get it. My friend deserted me because I pulled my son out of the Christian school our kids attended together. The worst thing was how her son stopped talking to my son. They were best friends and then just – boom – no contact. I had issues with the school – or rather my son did because the teacher was bullying him – she didn’t and she got the story from the teacher and told me she didn’t need to know my side, she already heard it from the teacher. It has been one of the deepest sources of my depression for the last three years. Depression, mistrust, a total lack of faith in many Christians now, to be honest. We had known each other since 7th grade and she became a Christian later in life. It changed her for the worst, which is hard to believe but was true. She was no longer fun or friendly – often uptight and judgmental and made me feel less than. I miss having friends but I can’t imagine ever going back to that again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, that must be such a hard loss to deal with. But I agree, sometimes it would be worse to remain in friendship with an unsafe person than face the loss. That’s how I felt in this case as well.

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      1. I love this former friend. I wish her well. I just don’t feel I could ever feel open with her again. I didn’t feel that open with her in the first place. I always felt this wall between us and I also felt judged by her, more so after she became a Christian. Maybe God is working on her, though, in the same way he’s working on me. Who knows what could happen years down the road from now, but right now? I can’t say I miss the tension I felt when I was around her.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is understandable. And like you say, maybe one day you will be able to reconnect. It is possible that time and growth may allow for that. That has been my experience with some relationships, anyway. I hope the best for the two of you.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I will pray things work out somehow with your friend. My mom always says “Don’t let a root of bitterness take hold.” I think I’ve done that but I’ve been slowly trying to dig the root up and chase it away.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. First, bravo to you for being brave enough to post this! Woot!

    Second, I can identify completely. I just haven’t been courageous enough to tell my story. Or, stories, rather. Sigh. Friendships can be amazing and also heartbreaking.

    I agree that it’s easier to remain angry and decide to paint the other person with the “they must be all bad” brush. But the truth is, they’re both. They behaved well and they behaved badly. Just like we do. Good and bad.

    Jesus, help me to be as forgiving toward others as you are toward me. I can’t be gracious on my own. I need your Holy Spirit, badly. (LOL) Amen.

    Liked by 3 people

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