We can all agree that people feel sad from time to time, right? That no matter how joyful we’d like to remain, life can bring down the cheerfullest of us all at times. But I have a confession to make; well, not really a confession so much as a statement of fact. All my life, anytime sadness came upon me it didn’t manifest the way I’d seen it show up in the movies…tears welling up and streaming down a gentle yet broken face. You know what I’m talking about, yeah? The type of sadness that elicits all manner of compassionate feelings from the viewer to the sorrower. You’re heart instinctively breaks for the person exhibiting this form of sadness and all you want to do is make them feel better. This exhibition of sorrow exquisitely calls upon our deepest instincts to nurture. This type of sad person is easy to love, easy to defend, easy to comfort.
And then there’s me.
My “confession”: When I feel sad or hurt I get angry. Not in a “I’ve gotta take revenge” kind of way, just a matter-of-fact state of anger. I almost feel embarrassed to share this since that emotion has been painted so negatively in our culture (for justified and unjustified reasons). Nevertheless, I’ll push my limits and admit that I’ve rarely been the type of girl that sits and cries quietly when she’s sad or has that one beautiful tear stream down her cheek as her lip quivers from a deep and silent pain. In fact, the only situations known to make me cry are:
- When someone dear to me has passed away.
- When I get so angry that I cannot take it anymore and the anger shifts to tears by virtue of build up and necessity.
- When I am immersed in the saturating Presence of God.
Crying really isn’t a true representation of sadness since, in the end, it shows up in the midst of many very different emotions. I’ve always been an incredibly deep and passionate person so perhaps that’s why my fiery displays of sadness look how they do? I just know that this is me and I’d like to break the box of what sadness can look like. I don’t cry, I cuss. I don’t have tears stream down my face, I drive and yell. I don’t run and hide, I look right in the face of my pain and I stare it down with balled fists. It’s not pretty, it’s not easily understood, and it’s certainly not easy to comfort, but it’s still valuable.
Terrible things have happened in my life and I’ve watched people squirm around me when I didn’t grieve “appropriately”. They desperately tried to think of how to comfort someone who was so “uncomfort-able” when I didn’t look how they needed me to look in the midst of a sad situation. But with how ignorant our culture is to this emotion, how exactly DO you comfort someone who is angry? How do you see beyond the spikes and reach the core of their pain? The approach I’ve seen most take is to walk away from me until I become someone more palatable to them; someone that they can better define and work around. (Hint: Not the best way to handle things.) What that spoke to me was that until I had somehow handled or stuffed down my true pain (on my own) I couldn’t express any form of it to those who were supposedly “there for me”. And when I tried and inevitably failed at that, I’ve had no choice but to accept my form of expression and the subsequent blank stares and empty rooms it’s brought me.
For years I tried to teach myself how to grieve or express sadness in a way that wouldn’t intimidate the onlooker, but I both suck at being inauthentic and don’t do myself any favors to not express my pain in the way that most quickly and radically heals it. I’ve gotten beyond some incredibly painful seasons quicker by yelling and screaming at the air more than I ever did passively shedding a tear and speaking in a socially acceptable tone. But hey, that’s me.
Now, you might be thinking that it’s not good to be angry, and you’d be right. It isn’t good to live a life of anger. The Bible says in Colossians 3:8 that we should rid ourselves of “anger, rage, filthy language…” and yet it also says in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” In Proverbs 16 it esteems being a patient person over being a warrior. Ecclesiastes says anger lies in the laps of fools, and yet in II King 17 it says that the Lord was very angry with Israel and in the gospels we have stories of Jesus angrily withstanding the Pharisees or flipping tables. So is the Bible confused? Is it teaching from both sides? Of course not. As we mature in the Lord we learn to see as God sees and we catch His heart and the true meaning of His words. It’s not His desire that any of us live as prisoners to any emotion. But I believe anger has gotten a bad wrap because we have seen this emotion be so misused and that’s caused many people to shove it away and label it “wrong”.
I believe the Bible warns against:
- Being provoked to anger too easily or too often
- Living a lifestyle of anger
- Ignoring anger and never letting it be expressed/used
I am here to redeem anger! Hear me out here. I believe you can be loving while angry. Anger is a tool; it is an emotion, not a state of being. We never want to be consumed with anger, or any emotion outside of love. But when we feel anger, if we are brave enough to hone it’s power, it can be used to heal, break free, set a boundary, clear a path, speak a truth, and/or cathartically release thoughts, emotions, and strongholds that might not be released any other way. There IS righteous anger.
Anger is that feeling you get when you see a bully push down a smaller child. It comes when someone cheats on you, when someone unexpectedly dies, when you’re humiliated, ridiculed, or victimized. It’s the sting of injustice that forces you to MOVE and DO SOMETHING. It drives us to take action. I get angry when someone hurts me or something bad happens that grieves my soul. Bad things, evil things, unnatural things hurt; they are unjust. Injustices make me sad and sadness, for me, takes the form of anger. I’m not often angry, but I do get angry…and I’m not ashamed of that. In fact, many times I have been incredibly grateful for this emotion and the way it has catapulted me through or out of pain that depression would have loved to hold me captive within. Is this making sense? Can anyone else relate? Have I made poor choices under the influence of anger? Sure. Have I made excellent choices under the influence of anger? Absolutely. I’m still in process. I’m figuring it out. But I wanted to write this blog because I hope people will allow themselves to go on a journey with Holy Spirit towards understanding this emotion. Why did God create it? What is its purpose?
When we can find a way to appreciate this often vilified and under-appreciated emotion I believe it will free many of us. If nothing else, I hope that when people like myself express sadness in this form, perhaps one or two of my readers will be less likely to pull away from that “angry sad person” and run to them, understanding that they need a hug just as much as one shedding tears. Who said sadness only took one form? Who said someone angry doesn’t deserve as much love as someone crying? Why are we so easily afraid of a person exhibiting anger? These are things to ponder.
So, where are the emotionally evolved ones ready to love every element that makes us alive? 😉
Anyway, these are just some musings on an issue that I’m only just now beginning to dissect. I’d love to hear what you think.
Go hug an angry person,