Life and other catastrophes · Relating to God · Spiritual growth and healing

What God did with my anger

My friend once said to me: “I don’t know what Christians mean when they say that life without God at the centre feels empty. I don’t feel empty at all. I feel completely satisfied with my life, my goals and ambitions. I choose my life, and I like it. I just don’t get the whole emptiness thing.”

I’m not sure I do either.

We’re all filling our lives with things we believe to be satisfying, whether it’s our partner, hobby, work or kids. Whether or not we acknowledge God in the midst of these, we’re involved in them because we value them. We see these people or endeavours as important, even if they give us grief sometimes. If we value them enough, we contine to throw our hearts into them. If they produce pain, we might abandon them, or self-medicate to cushion the impact they have. And then maybe the ‘medication’ becomes more important to us, and so on, until we come back around to where we started. Or not…

So I agree – the issue is not so much emptiness. It’s what we choose to fill ourselves and our lives with. To make a priority. And whether those things – in and of themselves – really satisfy us. Deep down.

I was contemplating recently why I felt so angry. One afternoon I felt this overwhelming frustration brewing, and fearing I’d say something regrettable, I left the kids with my husband so I could take a walk.

I’d spent the whole day devising ways to blame other people for the way I felt. But it didn’t help.

So I walked, and chose – reluctantly – to open my heart to God.

As I let the emotions swirl around, I realised my anger went quite a lot deeper than something someone said or did. It was anger that originated in hidden-away memories, dreams and desires. You know when you just hit on something – a need – that simply appears to have eluded you?

Did I feel empty? Anything but. I was filled with rage. But could I make room for love as well? For God’s love?

I realised again that his was a kind of sacrificial love that took his son to the cross to pay for everything. A redemptive love that, on one fine day, set this emotional captive free. Powerful love that broke through, again and again, all the chains I’d strapped around myself. A purposeful love that filled my life with meaning.

A radical, generous love that, when truly felt – truly believed – effortlessly overflowed to others.

My anger, though important to explore, was preventing me from receiving a vital stream of life.

What a relief when I could finally say that He was enough. I could hand it all over to Him. He understood. He cared. He offered closeness and comfort and strength – just when I needed it most.

“I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. 

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord – now, and always.”

(Psalm 131:1-3 NLT)

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16 thoughts on “What God did with my anger

  1. Beautiful thought provoking post, and I felt like I was peeking into your heart! So thankful you took a walk with God and He reminded you Who you belong too–and you entered into His rest!!

    As far as feeling ’empty’ a verse that comes to remembrance is this:

    “He who tills his land will have plenty of food,
    But he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty” Proverbs 28:19

    There was a time when I followed empty pursuits and I WAS in poverty, but praise be to God He has healed me, rescued me and I have exchanged my filthy rags for His glorious riches! Of course the FOOD we eat now is every word out of the mouth of God! Now that I have tasted and seen, I can look back and say i was empty because of the empty pursuits were but vapors…

    “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.” Psalm 32:3

    1. Thanks heaps for your encouragement, and the further thoughts/verses on emptiness.. I love the analogy you make – perhaps it’s like unhealthy food versus healthy – the spiritual pursuits make us alive, and cause us to flourish, as opposed to the opposite. I’m so glad God has taken you on this journey where you’ve discovered what really matters, and what will truly satisfy you into eternity.
      God bless x

  2. I still have empty pursuits… and I know it (scrapbooking… after all, it’s just pieces of paper and trying to preserve things that will pass away). But yeah, when you look around at your life, and see what you are involved in and spending precious time on, you have to think, is this going to last for eternity? Does this really matter in the scope of life?

    1. Yeah.. I agree. We can often lose sight of eternity, and how short our lives are.
      I guess the test is whether what we’re doing is bringing ourselves or others closer to God and his heart (and that can be hard to gauge – it’s not always that black and white I suppose, and it’s not something we can be prescriptive about).
      I’ve had some beautiful moments with God (and others) scrapbooking my photo memories and building friendships… I think it’s how we allow God ‘in’ to what we’re doing each day that matters – how we’re building our relationship with Him (which then forms the basis for how we relate to others).
      May He lead us all in how we spend our days as we allow him to love us, and love him in return 🙂

  3. Great post Ali! I especially appreciate your transparency in sharing your struggle with anger. I can relate.

    As for the experience of “emptiness” a couple thoughts come to mind. Some Christians overemphasize the emptiness experience because we all tend to think that our experience with God is how He works in everyone. I think this is true of people in general and in many arenas of life. But from my experience with people God delights in variety just as I relate/connect to my six kids differently.

    It’s also human nature to not realize what we were missing until we try something new. Many people do experience satisfying lives but discover a whole new level of delight when they enter into a relationship with our Creator and do those same things with Him. Sort of like enjoying a sunset by myself as opposed to enjoying it with my wife or kids.

    I also think that contentment in life or a sense of emptiness can vary depending on different events in life. Tragedy or hardship can cause us to look at life differently as can different phases of life. Turning 50 last year has started a season of reflection that I wasn’t expecting and hadn’t intentionally entered into. And I’ve been with many folks who were near death and suddenly hit with how final and temporary this life is.

    In the Gospels, Jesus heals three blind men in three different ways. Why? Perhaps because He knew our human tendency to lock onto patterns rather than be captivated by our Healer and Creator?!

    Just a few thoughts. Thanks again for sharing your journey with us!

    1. Thanks heaps for your comments and thoughts, Rick. It’s got me thinking more about how the Christian experience can be different for each of us according to our personalities, experiences, and I guess our individual definitions of faith/relationship (which can change over the years for sure).
      The father/child comparison is a good one – you relate with each of your kids differently, as God relates with us uniquely (though He never changes, he does adapt to us, speaking his truth to us in our language if you will).
      I can see how emptiness can characterise the different seasons of our lives. I can relate to that feeling of having a void, or being bereft of something (but not really sure what).
      We do tend to ‘lock into patterns’ and become quite prescriptive don’t we – but He is more than capable of filling us each, uniquely, with His love. And that changes everything, no matter who we are.
      God bless, and thanks again for taking the time to comment.
      Ali

  4. This is a great post–and I’m so thankful to be reading it from “the other side”. In March 2011, God delivered/healed me from deep, life long depression–in the 5 years prior to that I became painfully award that I was so ANGRY. I’m talkin’ 24/7 angry, spitting nails angry–at everyone, everything. Because I was so isolated, not many people were “torched” by it–but it was eating me up inside. I was empty of everything But Anger. And I’d been a Christian since almost “forever”–but now, I’m truly filled with rivers of living water. Oh, I have my days–when everything is wrong, I get “in a mood”. But it’s so fleeting–I’m able to see it as a temporary mood, hand it off to Jesus, allow His Grace to pour over me–and move on. Never “back”, always “Forward” in Him. I’m thankful everyday that God saw so much more in me than I ever did–that He created me to be Happy, Joyful, Creative–to love and give, and have fun.

    Oh, I hope I didn’t take up too much space here–I do get to gabbing, you know! God bless you, little Sis!–much love, sis Caddo (I so appreciate your recent visits to my blog–you’ve blessed me immensely–let’s try to stay in touch!)

    1. How wonderful to hear your story of how you’ve healed from the inside out from depression and all-consuming anger (I can relate in so many ways – I suffered from depression on and off for many years too but everything is different now, yay:)) – though I stil have my moments as you saw in my post hehe. God is with me though, and always sets me straight with His love 🙂
      Your story is so encouraging, and I’m so glad you now walk in His freedom and joy, and that the emotions are manageable. And what a blessing you now are to others with your poetry and encouragement to draw close to our great healer, redeemer, father/brother/friend! He is everything isn’t he? The beginning and the end 🙂
      Thanks again for sharing your story and being a blessing (always).
      Will definitely stay in touch 🙂

      1. Thank you, thank you–a million thank yous!!! See you soon, lovey! God bless your week.

  5. You always get us thinking, Ali . .thank you! You have me praying to empty myself a little more, to make more room for Him. God bless you greatly as you live calmed and quieted before Him!

  6. Beautiful post. I have times when I struggle with anger and frustration as well (I think many people do.) I like the introspective look you shared into your own situation.

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