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On Being Angry With God

taken by myself, of my brotherI am a few days into a new brand new season of life. I’ve been calling it the open seas, because I’ve let go of nearly everything at His prompting. And yes– it’s terrifying. I accidentally broke into tears at dinner the other night. But I am fully aware that the open seas do not just mean the unknown: they also mean that I could go absolutely anywhere and do anything. That’s overwhelmingly exciting, even as it hurts.

I knew a long time ago that this season was coming. But about a month ago, I realized just how little time I had left before I would have to leave a lot of the things I loved. And I didn’t react the way I expected or hoped to–

I was furious with God.

I had been okay with leaving a place in order to go where He wanted me; with leaving the expectations I felt placed on me in order to live in my design; with leaving my plans in order to submit to His. But when it hit me that I would have to leave a community of people that had become my family? I was fuming. I was furious that He would give me such an invaluable gift, a home, only to ask me to give it up so soon. “You can have my entire life, Lord.” I said in my heart.

“But you cannot touch my friends. Don’t you dare take them from me.”

Upon realizing that this was where my heart truly was, I immediately set out to engage in daily surrender of my entire heart and life, including my love for my friends-turned-family. I knew I needed to stop being angry with Him, because I knew He was doing all of this for my good, out of His love for me. I had to trust Him. I could not be angry.

Weeks passed. I had been reading the psalms. For many days, they had been pleading and bitter in nature, and I didn’t know what to do with them. I never really have, I guess, because I knew it was wrong to be angry at God; I never felt like I was able to relate to angry psalms. But when I read Psalm 80, after days of angry psalms, I hesitantly looked up from the book and whispered, “… am I still mad at you, Lord?”

And realized that I was. I really, really was.

My friends attribute the phrase “don’t bottle” to me because I so firmly believe that we need to be transparent and honest about what we think and feel; we need to live in it, and that will lead us into dealing with it in a healthy way. I champion this constantly. But wow do I feel like a hypocrite sometimes, because as much as I try to be honest about where I am, often I find that I’m still bottling because I want to be able to say, “I can handle it. I’m fine, really. I’ve got this. I trust Him.”

Naturally, then, when I found my bottled anger I was deeply disappointed in myself. “You can’t be angry with Him, Tessa. It’s wrong! You have to trust Him. Why can’t you trust that He is doing this for you, for your good?” I’d tried to be positive, but in the process I was stuffing away what I truly thought and felt, and it was hurting me; it was making us distant, because I wasn’t being honest with Him. I had been angry with Him for weeks (or longer) and didn’t know how to fix it, so I actually went to Him and asked Him to help me, to give me wisdom. He was faithful and did indeed come to help me. But He didn’t give me a tool or a principle I could apply, and He didn’t tell me what to do. Instead, He just asked me a question:

“Is it possible to be angry with someone you completely love and trust?”

I could almost hear my heart shatter open.

It is not wrong to be angry with God. Let me say it again: it is not wrong to be angry with God. He understands. He knows that sometimes we won’t understand what He’s doing at first, and that it will hurt us for a while. But this is the kind of hurt that brings even deeper healing, so He allows it. And yes, it’s hurt; it’s real and ugly and painful and sometimes leads you to burst out sobbing. I feel that. I still feel that. Today, I feel it.

And it’s okay.

Because I know He loves me. And I love Him, even though He’s made me angry. He understands. We’re still talking, still walking together, and I’m still following Him. I still have complete faith in Him. Because my love is so much deeper than my anger.

Anger is not the opposite of trust; they can live together. I never understood this before, and it caused me to bottle because I felt like my anger meant I didn’t love Him well enough. But I love Him so much, enough to follow Him down this path only He can see. The anger will fade.

But the love never has.

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