I’m mad as…

This past week, and the past few weeks have been challenging as we transition into the school year. My wife works hard to make sure there is adequate coverage to make sure our girls can get to and from school, and have loving care when we can’t be there. It’s a skill I really don’t have, or at least it’s not something that’s natural for me. It’s a part of the homeostasis in our home, where I jump into nervous activity and try to ‘solve’ what’s going on even it’s extreme, while Holly stays even-keeled and does the actual level-headed problem solving. I’m grateful that we’re in a healthy place that we can take turns, or not, where there is that level of homeostasis that keep the temperature a steady 70…
Thrown into the normal craziness has been a bug that both girls have caught, and has kept one of them home multiple days. It puts stress on our fragile ecosystem when it comes to taking care of the girls and working. The days are ok, they are taxing but that’s to be expected, the nights however are rough. Multiple nights have included long stretches holding a little body that can’t stop coughing. No matter what we try, the coughing persists and all we can do is try and reassure these sweet girls that we’re there with them. It’s true that there’s some sleep deprivation going on, but after praying my heart out for health and some peace (none of which was happening), I got mad. As I sat holding my daughter close to me, I told God exactly what was on my mind, and openly shared all kinds of thoughts I had about the lack of answered prayers. I kept coming back to a message from Paul:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
It didn’t necessarily bring me any comfort as I kept coming back to how God could have been using my daughter’s suffering for any good. The longer it lasted, the more my anger rose. I told Him I was angry with Him, that I felt like He wasn’t answering my prayers. In fact, was He even listening to my prayers, or were they falling on deaf ears? It feels blasphemous to be angry and tell God you’re angry with Him, and yet it’s been done throughout history and should continue, in fact if it’s going to be an actual relationship, we need to be authentic in our joy, pay and anger.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.” (Psalm 22:1-3)

These are words that resonated with me more-so than the passage from Romans. I felt forgotten, unloved and like I was being punished. It’s a familiar place for myself and others, that we believe that when things aren’t good, that we’re being punished.

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. (Hebrews 12:5-9)

Discipline, can also come in the form of building up our strength in times of difficulty in order to grow in our relationship. When we’re angry with a sibling, a child, a parent, friend or colleague we may not express our anger right away, we may even stuff it down, but eventually that anger comes out. In real relationships, ones that are authentic and not built on ones that are artificial, the relationship grows. It becomes stronger, and becomes something that can weather more of life’s storms.

What I realized after sharing my anger is that this time it was different. I didn’t get mad, and walk away. I stayed in the relationship. I shared all my anger, my sadness, how forgotten I felt and how I felt like I and my girls were being punished. It didn’t feel blasphemous, it felt like a normal conversation with a Father I know loves me. In the past I would have been stuck in verses 1 and 2 from Psalms 22, instead I moved into a relationship. Not one that is transactional, but one that can remain through difficulties and come out the other side better than before.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.” (Psalm 22:1-6)

Real relationships express emotions freely, both good and bad, can process them in healthy ways and stay with them instead of putting distance between them or even running from them. Instead of feeling like we’re bad for being mad at God, we should remember how much strength it takes to share those emotions and also shows the trust we have in Him. We’re not leaning on what some may tell us, that you can’t be mad at God because it’s blasphemy. Sharing your actual emotions and not gritting your teeth, shows that your faith is in God and that you have some kind of a relationship. It might be fresh or fragile, and especially for those in that position remember that your authentic expression of your feelings shows that at some level you know God can handle it.

I’ve struggled with this because I grew up in a home where my emotions were swallowed. There was no room for sharing our feelings, and anger particularly was the worst of all and reserved only for my earthly father. That’s a pattern I put on the creator of the universe. Because I grew up in a home where any expression of negative emotions were met with an amplified version of those emotions, I held onto my feelings and hid from God instead of staying in a relationship with Him. So this is really new territory, and a place we’re meant to be. Anything less is a putting God in a box, it’s using our experiences here and believing God is exactly the same. He’s so much more. Even in the darkest of emotions, stay with Him even if you feel forsaken. He’s there. He’s strengthening us even if we can’t see it.

“He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:28)

Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

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