Ever been disappointed, rejected, betrayed?
I'm thinking if you've lived past high school (or even earlier?), the answer to that question is yes.
An unfortunate statistic.
But people have a way of hurting other people. Sometimes it's intentional, often it's not. Mostly it doesn't matter.
Hurt still hurts.
And though hurt often leads to sad, sometimes it leads to MAD!
If I'm honest, I find that most of the time I get angry, it's really because I've gotten hurt. Anger seems to be the go-to reaction. Why is that, I wonder? I think it has something to do with vulnerability – about how being vulnerable makes us feel small – victimized, dismissed, invalidated, diminished.
And we are, perhaps, never more vulnerable than when we've been hurt.
But woe to the angry one!
Because anger is like a weed in our hearts – a weed that can quickly grow roots of bitterness.
And bitter roots are dangerous, choking things. They are deadly.
I've been thinking about this lately.
Been going through some new hurts – new hurts that are also stirring up some old hurts.
I am dismayed at how easily I have become an emotional bookkeeper.
Yup, I'm a good little accountant – keeping tally of perceived wrongs. Keeping careful track of all the hurts inflicted on me. Recording the wounds, checking off the snubs and slights, adding up the words and the attitudes and the actions.
Marking them all down in red – until, before I know it...
I'm seeing RED!
Ugly admission, but true.
The enemy is quite happy about this.
After all, he's pleased when people visit H & R Beelzebub.
"Bring those receipts to me. Yes indeed. Let's add things up here. Sure enough, you've overpaid. People have taken advantage of you. You've been shortchanged. People OWE you…"
The fine print? "Those shallow, selfish, evil people. You're better than they are. You should hate them…"
His math? Hurt + Anger = Bitterness.
Oh, what a battle it is when you feel *entitled* to your feelings.
Now, I'm not one to dismiss those feelings. Feelings are real. But they don't need to rule.
That's the secret, and that's the challenge.
Learning how to face the feelings, feel them, and then to let them go.
But, it's the only thing to do.
Because once those roots of bitterness begin to grow, they grow deep. They cut a wide path of destruction. They kill good plants, and thwart any growth of new fruit.
Like I said – deadly.
It's why God warns us so much about anger. He knows it's a seed planted…
"And 'don't sin by letting anger control you.' Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil."
(Ephesians 4:26-27, NLT)
"Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires."
(James 1:20, NLT)
So, is anger wrong?
No, Jesus Himself got angry. But God warns us against being angry…and sinning.
It's not the feeling that causes the problem. It's the underlying reasons for the anger, and the indulging of anger that leads to problems.
It is *feeling the feeling* and letting it fester. Ruminating upon it. Feeding the flames. Letting it lead us to bitterness.
No room for that in a bitter and resentful heart.
And God calls us to something bigger – something behind the act of forgiveness. He calls us to love.
And love requires poor bookkeeping:
"It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." (1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV)
God calls us to forgive the debts AND the debtors...
...the debtors AND the debts.
I am facing a battle inside myself lately. Knowing that the old devil is trying to inflame my hurts. Trying to stimulate my anger – trying to make it feel righteous.
He's trying to water the roots…
I'm trying to face the feelings – without feeling the fireworks.
Learning to let go.
Learning to be hurt, yes – but through the pain, learning to turn to the Binder of Wounds, the Friend of the Brokenhearted, the Champion of the Crushed.
Using my will to battle my injured heart.
Remembering that Jesus bore wounds for me. My precious Savior – hurt, disappointed, rejected, betrayed Jesus.
He was wounded for me.
So, I'm taking His precious blood and crossing out the debts in my "red column" of wrongs. Giving Him the books. Thanking Him for getting rid of the books that keep track of MY wrongs against other people. Asking Him to forgive me for the many ways that I hurt HIM – for all MY marks in the "red column."
Praising the Love that made it possible for my name to be entered into the only book that counts – the Book of Life.
Are you feeling hurt? Angry?
Oh dear friends, don't let the enemy get rooted…
Attach yourself more tightly to The Vine.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.
Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
"And then he added, 'It is what comes from inside that defiles you…'"
(Mark 7:20, NLT)
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)
Is there any bitterness in your heart that God needs to uproot?
Linked today with:
Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY
Michelle at HEAR IT ON SUNDAY, USE IT ON MONDAY
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"