There was something dry and brittle in my heart – something that didn’t belong.
The day was gloomy gray, and so was my spirit. Everything felt heavy, and tears flowed with no warning. My whole body felt weary and wounded. My jaw ached from the constant clenching and my shoulders from hunching. And my head hurt the way it does if I miss that second cup of coffee in a day.
Out by the wildflower garden, I stopped and asked God, “What in the world is wrong with me?” I knew the answer, and I didn’t like it much.
Like most of us, I carried sadness in my heart, but I couldn’t blame my defeat and discouragement on that.
Instead, it was time to face it head-on – I was angry in a quiet, barren, prickly, dreary, stubborn, prideful, worn, sinful kind of way. It wasn’t the first time and the last time wasn’t all that long ago.
I spent some time justifying the anger and reminded God (yes I did!) about the deliberately unkind and shaming things said to me about me, undeserved criticism, and mean words spoken behind my back shared by someone else to my face. I reminded Him that they had all been wrong and they had been.
But there was another side of my sin – I’d let too many sunsets pass without releasing my indignation.
“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)
My spirit was still a mess of tangled emotions and dark thoughts and self-justified anger as I said to Him, “Their false exhortations came with no edification!”
I was bent out of shape and fretting, and on the brink of bitterness.
And I wanted Him to relieve my pain by assuring me that my anger was the right kind and that I had His approval.
That didn’t happen.
Words and tears tumbled out as conviction continued to prick my conscience with a steady, gentle, firmness.
Something had to give, and I knew it had to be me.
I remember inhaling – the way I imagine I might if I was drowning and broke the surface for a gulp of air. When I exhaled resistance fled as if carried out of me in the white vapor.
Memorized verses came to mind, and instead of resisting them, God gave me the courage to listen to His Word.
- “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20 NIV)
- “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9 (NIV)
- “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Colossians 3:8
- “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.” Psalm 37:8 (NIV)
When God and I finished, a soft hurt remained instead of the un-right, hard anger. It was a beautiful relief.
Back in the house, my cheeks were a little scratchy from where tears had dried in the chilly wind, and I was thirsty. I patted little Vaseline on my face and poured myself a big cup of coffee. When I sat down, and our dogs snuggled close, it was as if God poured a pitcher full of peace over my now quiet heart.
Just like He did the last time.
Because that’s the way He is.
I thanked Him and admitted, “Sadness doesn’t hurt nearly as much as anger.”
Since that day, God has graciously filled my heart with mercy for those who were unkind. That’s not my doing – it is 100% His. I cannot say I love what they said, but I can tell you I care deeply for each of them and no longer hold any of their words against them.
This is what happens when anger loses, and God’s love wins.
Until Next Time,