Monday, July 25, 2011

Sad Does Not Equal Mad

I was reading some Bible verses studying another topic the other day and I came across this. 

“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

It convicted me because I am the bitterness queen.  And I can be pretty malicious and angry.  Those attitudes have done a lot of damage in my life.  A lot.  They are relationship killers.  I didn’t even realize how much bitterness had built up in my marriage over the years and how much that impacted the way I treated my husband and the way I related (or did not relate) to God.  But it’s true. 

So I wondered how I could really live that verse.  Is it possible to get rid of those ugly attitudes?  It doesn’t seem like it.  Those words describe the way of the world we live in pretty well.  What if I were only kind, compassionate and forgiving?  Well,  I’d never make it. 

Our son was obsessed with Star Wars when he was little.  He would run around saying, “spaceships” which meant star wars please!  I haven’t had to watch Star Wars recently but I do remember this:

Fear leads to anger…


Who can argue with the wise Yoda?  Feelings can create a domino effect.  Women live with a lot of fear.  Fear that they won’t be good enough, loved, valued.  And fear leads to hurt, guilt and shame.  For a long time, I was confused.  I took my hurt and turned it into anger.  I took my sad and confused it for mad.  All of a sudden I was lashing out and angry and I wondered where on earth that came from.

It could be because anger is an easier emotion to deal with than sad and hurt.  I am in control with anger but hurt?  It’s just too hard.  So I get mad to push back.  And hold on to some control.  I let bitterness take over to protect myself. 

The problem is that hurt and sadness cannot be avoided.  And there are things in this life we cannot control.  This year as I’ve gone through times of hurt and sadness, I am learning to stop myself and think about what I really feel.  Am I really mad?  Or does it just hurt more than I want to admit.

When I let anger take over, it only makes things worse.  I alienate myself from others.  I become self-righteous and hard-hearted. 

When I let myself be sad and hurt, it is easier to stay tender and reach out for help.  It’s a humbling place to be.  But humility is exactly where we meet Jesus Christ.  It’s okay to be hurt.  It’s okay to be sad.    It’s okay to be afraid.  We can take those things to the Savior and be loved and protected and blessed instead.

It took me thirty some years and some hard times to start to figure this out.  I desperately want to help my kids figure this stuff out sooner rather than later.   I don’t want our family to teach them that we pretend everything is ok when it’s not.  Or that it isn’t okay to be sad or hurt.  And when they are hurt or sad or disappointed that doesn’t mean they smack their sibling or trash their room. 

When we deal with our emotions, disappointments, hurt and sadness in the right way, it keeps us from becoming angry and bitter.  That will ultimately put up walls between us and God. 

So we truly can do what Ephesians 4:31 says.  Get rid of the anger and malice and bitterness.  There is no way to be loving to others and pleasing to God with that in our hearts.  And the times I feel bitter and angry, I can take those straight to the cross.  Jesus died for our pain and suffering.  By His wounds we are healed.  We don’t need to stay locked in the hurt and sadness we have. 

When I allow myself to feel hurt and to turn Christ for help and healing I am taking a step closer to Him.   Not only am I looking for hope in the right place, but I am keeping my heart from anger and bitterness and trading it in for kindness, compassion and forgiveness.  Which is a wonderful place to be.

Surely he took up our pain
   and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
   stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
   and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:4-5