It’s an interesting feeling to realize that the anger that burned within you just a week or two ago has faded and been replaced by a newer, nicer nonchalance.
OK, it’s weird to realize that thing that bugged you to the point of hostile thoughts one week is now making you laugh. After you get past the initial weirdness, you realize it’s freeing to know that maybe you can get beyond the point of being constantly aggravated and be free of the baggage that comes with it.
I’d love to be able to say that anger has turned into compassion, but I’m not quite there yet. Because I think compassion encompasses more grace and understanding than I can give at this point. But I’m growing to that point.
So until then I will just define this situation as a southern “bless your heart” thing. What a great expression! “Bless your heart” is what you say when there are literally no other words to sum up the situation. When you know there is nothing you can do to make the situation better so you sit back and let life happen to the other person involved.
So what’s my “bless your heart” epiphany? The realization that some people literally have to control every detail around them. Not manage, not help, not question, not bend, not even understand. Literally control. To the point of changing something, repeatedly. When they don’t have the final say. When they don’t understand why it’s being change. When they don’t ask why it’s being changed. And why? Because it isn’t their way. Because they can’t imagine a reason for doing it any other way. Because they can only understand their own thinking, which they think is logical. It’s acting out of compulsion instead of necessity or even common sense because there is only one way, no matter how right or wrong it is.
Somehow the anger that boiled over within me because of such control the last two weeks has been replaced by this “bless your heart” mentality. And instead of being upset, I just quietly go about my business and laugh. It now strikes me as almost insane how an insignificant detail can become the battleground of an ongoing control war. I’m willing to talk about it and to explain myself, but I don’t get asked those questions. And people ask me why I don’t just explain myself … it’s because it won’t change anything. I’ll be told, again, that I am doing things the wrong way because it isn’t her way.
And it makes me sad to realize people live like this. By their choice. Instead of choosing to participate in life with their fellow human beings, they isolate themselves behind these walls of control and micromanagement and passive aggressive behavior. It’s sad because I see how things could be different – be happy and fun and accepting. She’s almost begging for my pity, but it would devastate her to know she had it. So why does she act that way? And then God walks me to a revelation, in the form of a question. What is happening in her life to make her act this way – and not acknowledge it? What holes in her heart are making her inapproachable and almost impossible?
And so I’m left to wonder – is there a way to break through? Is there a way to scale the wall and get inside? It would be nice to find a way to knock down all the walls, but is it possible? Once the walls are up, it sometimes takes a miracle to knock them down.
And then God throws another good punch – we all have walls. We all have areas where we are (overly) sensitive, controlling, demanding, and irrational. And God doesn’t want any barriers between us and Him and us and our fellow man.
Aggression is a wall.
Unforgiveness is a wall.
Being passive aggressive is a wall.
Being angry is a wall.
Being petty is a wall.
Compulsion is a wall.
Determined to be right is a wall.
Self-righteousness is a wall.
Controlling is a wall.
God doesn’t want us to keep our walls up so we’ll feel safe, like they had to do in the Old Testament. God doesn’t want us to construct walls to keep non-believers (or those unlike us) away from us. God doesn’t want us to consider walls a Christian way to live. Boundaries create safe zones; walls create judgment and exclusion.
Our walls will even keep God out. We use our walls to limit God’s access to our life. Sure, we’ll give Him our job but not our hobbies. Sure, we’ll go to church but maybe not during football season. Sure, we’ll tell people to walk in love but then gossip and criticize someone at work. And when we want to do our own thing, we put God in a basket and lower him down outside our walls, just as Rahab did with the spies (Joshua 2:15). God isn’t at our beck and call, to be called upon at our convenience when we’re comfortable inside our walls.
So why do we think that walls protect us? Why do we believe that walls are necessary?
God wants us to tear down our walls, whether it’s with one giant explosion or one brick at a time. But the walls must come down. If we want to live fully free and full of joy and peace.
I think I’m finally let God get a hold of me fully, because I feel like a big pile of bricks in my soul has been taken away. I don’t want to swim in the pool of aggression or do laps in the lake of hostility anymore. So I’m learning to let go and just laugh. I’m hoping it’s a life change that sticks, because it’s amazing to let go and let God. Bless my heart!
Will you let go and God too? Will you allow God inside your walls?
Marie Fremin, 5/12-13/15