I didn't have a healthy view of anger. All anger was wrong because I associated anger with abuse. Angry people raped, tore others apart emotionally, told lies, said mean things, etc. I jumped from that belief to believing that a good Christian should never, ever get angry. I thought that's what turning the other cheek was all about.
My ideas made sense to me. They fit my environment. They seemed logical. But they were lies that limited me and served abusers. I couldn't express anger. Abusers are very okay with that. I stuffed my anger and years later discovered that all of my other feelings had become hostages of the denial as well.
When I began reading the Bible as a child, I was confused by the verses that showed that God gets angry--but, he is God of the universe so I trusted that his anger was always right and never abusive (truth) and that he was the only one who was capable of righteous anger (a lie).
I noticed that humans in the Biblical accounts got angry too. And sometimes it seemed okay and sometimes it didn't seem okay at all (such as with Moses' anger in Exodus 32 versus his anger in Numbers 20:1-13). What was the difference? My original ideas slowly began to crumble. Maybe there were times and ways that people could be angry in a righteous manner--but it was easy, way too easy to lose control and sin in anger. My new belief accepted that anger isn't always sinful (true), but held firmly to the belief that humans almost always lose control of anger and harm others and themselves. So I reasoned that good Christians should always avoid outward expressions of anger (a lie) and should always confess any internal feelings of anger to God as sinful acts (a lie). Somewhere along the line, I'd read the Bible enough times to see that righteous anger involves being angry at the things that anger God. So feeling anger at Satan's deceitfulness is acceptable (truth).
I also began recognizing more how angry I became with myself whenever I fell into sin, or performed imperfectly or made stupid mistakes. I was frequently unkind to myself in my inner dialogue. God's spirit gently convicted methat much of my angry self-talk was self-abusive...a continuation of the negatives about myself that I absorbed from my abusers. I believed I was incompetent. I believed I was a failure because I was imperfect. I believed I wasn't worth protecting or taking care of. I believed I was never going to be good enough. (All these beliefs were opposite of God's messages to us in the Bible. He hates sin but he loves us. He doesn't expect perfection. He didn't make a huge mistake in creating me. He didn't want me to hate myself).
During my young adult years, I continued to repress any anger toward others. I thought I just didn't do anger. I didn't feel anger over the abuse--just disappointment and resignation. I didn't feel anger when my boundaries were violated, I felt tired instead. I didn't feel anger when someone was cruel to me, I felt worry for the other and self-doubt toward myself. I didn't identify or acknowledge my anger, but sometimes I acted angry anyway.
|Photo by Emanuele Cerroni |
It wasn't until I reached middle-aged that I was finally able to get in touch with the anger over abuse done to me. I didn't like being treated that way. I didn't want anyone else to violate me again. I wasn't "okay with" any type of abuse. Today, I don't choose to be in friendship with people who are comfortable abusing others. I choose nice people to be friends with. Today, I am more patient and understanding in my self-talk--even when I sin or make mistakes. Today, I can acknowledge my anger to myself and then give myself respect as I decide how I want to express or not express my anger to others. Anger is now one of many feelings I experience. Anger isn't bad; it's a signal that invites me to take note of myself, another person's behavior, and my boundaries.
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