Still an Angry Christian

Last year, I wrote a post titled I am An Angry Christian, celebrating the gift of anger (which recently breathed new life on the angry women blog.) I’m glad I wrote it, as it serves as a manifesto for myself, a reminder of how my anger compels me to hope–especially since the time of that post, I have been angry again and again.

What I am learning is that personal growth and spiritual maturity does not mean experiencing less episodes of anger, or even about managing anger better, but embracing it instead of fighting it. I am learning that as long as I care for the suffering of the world, the more anger is going to take up residence in my life, and I might as well get cozy with it.

I am figuring out that those lovely fruits of the Spirit we learned about in Sunday School? the love and the joy and the peace—turns out they don’t get handed to us on a nice platter by a handsome butler. They come with a steep cost. Ask any parent how easy it is to love their child, and we’ll let you know love hurts like hell. Ask a liberated oppressed people group how they enjoy their peace, and they’ll recount tales of sacrifice from their revolution. Ask any elderly person the secret to their joy, and they’ll bare the wounds of their lifetime.

We have to fight for these things because they are hard to come by in a world with broken systems and insidious evil and finite humans. Striving for wholeness is an uphill climb on mountain after mountain of personal tragedies and communal pain. Life truly is searching for hope in the midst of much despair.

anger is such a beautiful, positive sign
In light of this, anger is such a beautiful, positive sign of life. It is the swell of emotion that tells us we are not yet done fighting. Anger causes our blood to boil with passion and energy, an adamant refusal to lie cold. I see it sometimes, those who let life’s cruelties knock the wind right out of them. The fire is gone from their eyes. “You can’t help everyone,” they shrug with chilling indifference.

Kathy Escobar says,

Underneath the feelings of anger is usually an unmet need.

We need to learn to view anger not as an unwanted visitor, but our counselor getting to the root of our issues.

Lately, I have been angry a lot. It bothered me, not because I felt guilty about it, but more because I saw it as a nuisance. It takes time and energy to deal with anger. As an extrovert, I need people to process it with me out loud, so the logistics of arranging coffee dates, or intruding on my husband’s work, “Sorry, babe, just one more rant,” felt like such a burden on my busy schedule.

But as the anger stayed with me, and I with it, it started to morph into an altogether different monster. I saw that lurking beneath the anger was a sense of profound grief. I let the grief monster rear its head, even if it meant ugly crying in the middle of the produce aisle. I was grieving a world as it shouldn’t be. I was lamenting the painfulness of pain. I was soft and sweet and empathetic to the suffering of others. And the next morning, I woke up angry again.

You see, the fruits of the Spirit in my life doesn’t magically appear through private devotion or disciplined ethics. I fight for them as my pursuit for the heart of God costs me greatly. As anger and grief at how imperfect people hurt one another mingle and brew in discontent. As I die a thousand deaths of disappointment, and resurrect each time with hope.

I am still an angry Christian because I am still showing up. I will still advocate for the poor and needy while outraged at poverty. I will cry unending tears for the mistreated and rage against their perpetrators.

I will walk justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God even as I curl my fists.

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  • NuclearReceptor

    Are you sure you’re not mistaking zeal for anger, or vice-versa? Anger is not a good thing. It’s an uncontrolled wildfire. Zeal, on the other hand, is a fire that warms the shivering, a torch that lights a darkened road.

    Anger only leads to bitterness and resentment, whereas zeal gives hope for a better future and trust in God’s mercy and providence.

    • John

      The author is speaking more of a spiritual anger, not an anger of rage that leads to resentment. “Spiritual” anger is an authentic emotion. The author hit the nail on the head with this article. Just as there is “healthy” fear, i.e., fear of the Lord, there too, exists a healthy anger. Healthy anger helps us become compassionate towards others, and towards ourselves. We get angry for not being “perfect”. We get angry at sickness. We get angry at poverty, etc. When we stop striving for the impossible, and just accept ourselves, our anger, our imperfection, our sickness, our poverty and all, this is when we truly meet the divine within – the divine that allows us to accept humbly God’s mercy whilst learning to extend that same mercy towards ourselves.

  • Annie Martin

    I admire your passion for those who are hurting, as I have a compassionate heart toward the broken as well. I must correct you though, The Scripture mentions the “fruit” of The Spirit, and not “fruits.” The context of this Scripture is that THE END RESULT (or fruit) of a Christian should manifest as these virtues (love, joy, peace, etc.).

  • rbak923

    The Bible does mention righteous anger.. but the Lord knows every moment of every human life, the reasons behind every action, and the causes behind every tear we ever shed. His servants, out of sheer love for him alone, patiently breach the gates of hell every day often only to take no more than a handful of souls from that place. How great is His love?

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