Tag Archives: anger

The Shack

I read the book “The Shack.”  Twice.  I also saw the movie … with a friend who also read the book.  We both teared up watching God’s love in action.  For one broken man, lost in his grief and drowning in his anger.  A man who lost much, including his faith.

The Shack

A fictional story.  But one I believe is totally possible.

 

Now let’s stop here for a minute.  Because you may want to argue and fuss and disagree with me.  To convince me I am wrong.  To badger me into changing my mind.  But you won’t.  So please save us both the headache.  I am not asking you to agree with me.  I am not asking you to affirm I am right (or good).  I am only asking you to respect my faith as I respect yours.  I know who I am, and I know who God is – and these deeply rooted truths cannot be swayed with any argument or persuasion.  So if you don’t agree with me about this book, please, let’s agree to disagree – respectfully.

 

Yes, I know “The Shack” is a work of fiction.  But I believe “The Shack” can happen.  Today.  To anyone.  Because I believe in an all-powerful God who performs miracles all the time.  I believe in an agape-loving God who loves us more than we will ever know and works us toward maturity within that love.  I believe in an omniscient God who knows all and therefore knows how to get us to the best version of ourselves.

 

I believe He is a loving Father who meets us exactly where we are.  In our mess.  In our anger.  In our suffering.  In our pain.  In our fear.  In our hardheartedness.  In our apathy.  In our indifference.  In our carelessness.  In our selfishness.  In our angst.  In our hopelessness.

 

And none of this scares Him away from wanting to be with us.  None of this causes Him to leave us or walk away from us.  None of this effects how much He loves us.

 

In fact, I think any of these things compel Him to pursue us.  Because He knows we need Him.  Because He knows only His love can fill in our gaps.

 

Which is, again, why I believe “The Shack” is possible.  Because Mack was lost.  Mack was angry.  Mack was hurting.  And Mack was so wrapped up in his great grief that he wouldn’t let God’s love, mercy, and hope in.  Mack was so consumed in his great anger that forgiveness would never be an option.

 

And Mack’s darkness and anger were so great that he was stuck.  He was clinging to the past and slowly destroying his family in the present.  He was constantly reliving his grief, slowly massacring hope and peace in the present.  He was refusing to forgive and let go, slowly eroding his sanity and compassion in the present.  And as he ruined his present, he was also ruining his future and that of his children.

 

And here is the brutal truth – we are all Mack.  We all have at least one person, place, or thing that has hurt us deeply.  Possibly shaken the core of our faith and caused us to doubt God’s love.  We have all come to the intersection of pain and truth and had to choose which way we would go.  We have all had to wrestle with our feelings that were pulling us away from God.  Just like Mack.

 

And eventually, like Mack, we come to the place where our pain is so great that we have no choice but to face it.  We return to the shack, the place or event that broke our spirit, and we wrestle with truth in the quest to find it.

 

And there we find ourselves.  For we are the shack.  A broken place more prone to darkness than light, with an air of desolation and unworthiness.  A place of pain and sorrow – whether self-inflicted or at the hand of someone else.  A lost place in the middle of a forest, stuck in isolation and separation.

 

And just as God met Mack at the shack, at his lowest point, so too He meets us.  He invites us back to our place of pain – and mixes our tears with His love to sprinkle it over our desert-laden heart.  Where He plants the seeds of love, joy, peace, hope, forgiveness, endurance, steadfastness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness within us – cultivating out the weeds one at a time as we accept His work in us.  And the whole time He whispers “I am especially fond of you” to us, encouraging us to (once again) believe in His love and surrender to His grace.

 

God wants us to love at all times.  Just like He taught Mack.  The man whose hardest moment was having to say, out loud, “I forgive you” toward the man who killed his youngest daughter.  It was so painful for him, having held on so tightly to his anger, to even consider opening his heart a little to let love in.  But he had come to the place, with God’s help, of wanting to be free of the pain that was eating him alive.  So he said it.  And with every step he took from the cave containing his daughter’s body back to the shack, he repeated it.  Praying with each declaration that it would take root in his heart and he would be able to say it and mean it and finally be free.

 

And the best part of the story is that Mack does find freedom.  He does come to embrace the love God so openly and graciously offers him.  The love that he realizes never left him.  The love that inspires him to go back and live life to the full.

 

And so too can we.  As individuals.  And as a group of believers.

 

Because we are each part of God’s story.  We are included in His chapters of love, grace, hope, and forgiveness.  We are worth redeeming.  Just like Mack.  Just like the shack.

 

So if you didn’t read the book or see the movie, here’s my takeaway – God loves you.  More than you can ever imagine.  Mack is proof.  His story may not be real, but God’s love always is.

 

Marie Fremin.  6/4/17

Jonah

“This is what anger can do: shatter things – a relationship, a reputation, a promise, a hope.”  – Carol Knapp, Daily Guideposts 2017, February 15th

 

That’s what it did to Jonah.

 

Jonah, the prophet famous for trying to run and hide from God (Jonah 1:3,5) because he did not want to go to Ninevah.  The prophet who compelled the sailors to toss him overboard to save their ship from the violent storm destroying it (Jonah 1:12).  The prophet who “was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17) getting right with God before “it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10).

 

The prophet who humbly proclaimed “… But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit” (Jonah 2:6).

 

You would think the man who just went through all that would just go with God’s flow and accept His purposes.  But not Jonah.

 

Now this humbled prophet has wandered outside Ninevah and angrily prayed, “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:3).  The same man who just experienced three days of compassion and forgiveness with a big dose of redemption is very upset at God (Jonah 4:1) for extending the same things to Ninevah after the entire city, including the king, heard Jonah’s message and truly repented for their evil ways.

 

The same man who just a few days before was begging for mercy – “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me …” (Jonah 2:2) – is now outraged that the city of Ninevah did the same thing – “ … Let everyone call urgently on God … ” (Jonah 3:8).  And it was right that God heard and answered him and gave him another chance.  But it was totally wrong for God to do the same thing for Ninevah (Jonah 3:10).

 

And when I think about it like that, it’s crazy.  I totally get Jonah’s point of view.  I can see him sitting there thinking, “God, are you serious?  You made me spend three days floating in every gross thing imaginable to get my attention and get my apology.  This city hears eight words about their coming doom, makes several grand gestures about being sorry, and You say ‘never mind’.  Are you serious?  They don’t deserve anything good.  I get the fish, and they get nothing?  I had to suffer for the grace you showed me.  Why aren’t you making them suffer too?”

 

And I’ve rowed that boat before.  In fact, I find myself often rolling my eyes over certain things at work.  Like hiring a new shop manager, a man, and offering him more money than I was currently making after being there 4 years.  And thinking it was okay on several levels.  But here’s what I saw – it was wanting the experience he brings at the expense of my 4 years of hard work, long hours, and extreme dedication.  And knowing I bring something to the company he never will – the ability to be able to do my job and his.

 

I could have been like Jonah.  He was “righteously” angry and chose to dwell there.  He set up camp.  He wallowed until he was covered in it.  And he threw a temper tantrum, begging God several times to just let him die.  He refused to extend grace.  He refused to allow grace.  He refused to accept grace in action.

 

And God in that moment could have read Jonah his resume and reminded him of his choices.  He could have rubbed Jonah’s nose in his running away as just page one.  But that’s not who God is.  It’s not who He was with Jonah, and it’s not who He was with Ninevah.

 

But despite personally knowing God’s love in action, he couldn’t accept it for anyone else.  He was convinced God would change His mind, so much so that “he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city” (Jonah 4:5).  Why?  Because “Angry people stir up a lot of discord” (Proverbs 29:22a).

jonah

He could not get past their reputation to accept their repentance.  When that was what God wanted.  His great concern was the people.  Jonah’s great concern was vengeance.

 

So what happened to me at work?  I didn’t seek vengeance.  But I did speak up.  In a somewhat joking manner with a serious undertone.  I wanted it to be known that I did expect to be acknowledged for my years of dedication and hard work.  And I was.  And I’m convinced it was because I was honest without being angry or hostile.

 

The choice was mine, and I think I chose wisely.  Just like the choice was Jonah’s, and he chose selfishly.

 

And today is a new opportunity for us to choose.  We can be Jonah, angry and pouting with our hands tucked securely under our arms and refusing to allow grace.  Or we can be like God, gracious and good and forgiving.

 

Who do you want to be?

Who will you choose to be today?

 

Marie Fremin.  2/15/17 and 3/5/17

Forgiveness is NOT Optional

Is it just me, or does everyone else feel like he/she is constantly being bombarded by offense? Persistently being chased by aggravation? Always being assaulted by annoyance?

 

Aggravation is inevitable. Because God knows we need these things in our life. To learn patience. To practice kindness. To walk in love. To find joy and peace in the midst of all circumstances.

 

But most importantly? To extend forgiveness.

Forgiveness is NOT Optional

Because forgiveness requires a full dependence on God to change our heart and soften our emotions to someone who treated us unfairly. Who abused and hurt us. Who ignored us. Who belittled us. Who abandoned us. Who disappointed us (regularly).

 

No matter what happened, we are called to forgive. Commanded to forgive. Commissioned to forgive. Because God says forgiveness is not optional. It’s not a suggestion.

  • Matthew 6:14-15, Mark 11:25-26 – “14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
  • Matthew 18:21-22 – “21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
  • Luke 6:37-38 – “37 Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
  • Luke 7:44-47 – “44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
  • Luke 11:4: – “And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

 

So it’s not optional. Just as we have been forgiven for every bad thought, bad decision, wrong emotion, and wrong judgment, so too are we supposed to forgive everyone who hurt us. Offended us. Wronged us. Because that’s what His Cross is all about. A love so big and so epic that it forgives everything. Colossians 2:13-14 says “… He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses … He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

 

So God says we have to forgive. No choice about it. But sometimes it just isn’t easy.

 

Sometimes forgiveness is a process. You can start by saying the words “I forgive you” every day and at every resurfacing of the memories. And you keep doing it. And one day you’ll find that pretty soon they have taken root and aren’t just words. You have truly forgiven.

 

And it’s SO important to forgive.

 

Because you do it for YOU. When you don’t forgive, you are only hurting yourself. You are keeping yourself in bondage to the pain. You are keeping yourself from moving forward. You are stealing the future and its joy from yourself.

 

Because forgiveness is freedom to live life to its fullest. It opens the doors to God’s opportunities, and it gives you the ability to walk through them freely and unencumbered. Because you aren’t weighed down by your pain or held back by the burdens of the past. You become a victor, filled with power, instead of a victim, fueled by pain.

 

Because forgiveness is healing. Forgiveness heals fully and finally the wounds from your past that you keep rubbing and picking. No more painful scars or itchy rashes. Just the evidence of His grace filling your empty spaces and hurting places and redeeming all your tears. So you are whole – body, mind, and emotions – and ready to follow Him. And then your scars become testimonies of His grace and His love that others can see and benefit from.

 

Because He wants His best in your life, and unforgiveness stops it from coming to you. It is so natural to want to hold onto and hoard our hurts. But it is so counterproductive to what God wants to do. It is so harmful to our spiritual life. It literally eats us up from the inside out. It keeps us off balance so we never let people get close to us. We even hold God off at a distance. We’re not quite right in our behavior and our reactions. And forgiveness will break every chain that keeps us from God.

 

Forgiveness needs to happen, whether there is an apology or not. Because forgiveness is about us being free of an unmanageable burden. Because forgiveness brings overflowing grace that is bigger than any abuse, bigger than any pain, bigger than any shame. Because forgiveness is necessary if we ever want to make progress and grow.

 

So decide to let go and move forward.

Let God be good, faithful, and true in your story.

Let God enhance your life with freedom and joy.

Rise above your trial and choose the better way.

 

We will all be defined by something. Let it be God and not unforgiveness. Let it be God and not your past. Let it be God and not your offense.

 

For what we let God define He will refine. For your good and His glory.

 

Let today be the day you choose forgiveness. Let today be the day you (start to) forgive. Let today be the day you (begin to) let go.

 

For when we open our hands from holding onto the hurt, our hearts immediately open to God and His goodness. And what we think will be a great effort to forgive will become effortless. Because His grace will enable you to forgive completely.

 

So let today be the day that you allow God to change your life for the better. You will never regret that decision!

 

Marie Fremin. 1/10, 1/16, 1/19, 1/23/16

 

Boiling Point

NOTE: An apology/addendum has been added to the end of this post on 3/13/16, since a lot of emotions and reactions resulted from the original post.

 

I am a natural redhead, which means that all of my life I have comments in the genre of “wow, you must have a wicked temper”. And I used to. I may have been a great mobster, because in those moments of anger I didn’t care what I did and who got hurt. Because I was intensely angry. Now, I won’t say the temper has anything to do with the hair color but think what you want.

 

Now I have what I lovingly refer to as “flash and burn” moments. When something crosses my path that doesn’t agree with thinking or agenda. When someone says something that doesn’t agree with my ideologies. But it has to be something big. Something that basically calls me stupid on multiple levels. Something that calls my God or my faith onto the carpet in very obnoxious or judgmental ways. Because most of the other stuff is now in the “too piddly to worry about it” category. Life is too short to be bogged down in that minutia. So for the small stuff, I flash mad and then calm down, realizing that it isn’t worth the effort.

 

But when someone comes to me and says I am taking liberty with God’s holy Word, I get mad. Not a quick moment of mad. A boiling furnace. A raging river. A four alarm fire. Because in those moments who I am is being challenged. What I think is being denigrated. And I am being told I am wrong on so many levels that it becomes very personal.

 

And when that person doesn’t have the authority to be saying this, doesn’t have any kind of conversation with me about my thinking to have an adult discussion, and comes out publicly to declare my errors, the flash is long lasting. The burn continues. And it rages for a while.

Boiling Point.jpg

Because who among us really knows anything? Who can declare himself/herself most knowledgeable about God? When we are honest, we admit that we know nothing. We have a minuscule understanding, a brief glimpse, and a tiny speck of truth in His Word to go by to try to understand an infinite, eternal, and sovereign God. He even tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9 that we have no idea the scope of God’s love and plans: ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

 

His thoughts are light years and centuries beyond ours. Deuteronomy 7:9 says God thinks many, many generations into our future – ““Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” Psalm 90:4 says that God sees each day in the scope of eternity – “For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.” Ephesians 3:17-20 tell us we cannot even begin to comprehend God’s love for us and the blessings He wants to give us – “17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

 

So how can one person say that he/she knows more than someone else? How can one person be declared wiser or more knowledgeable than the next?

 

Because we’re all on the journey together. We all learn the most about God from our experiences – in life, with people, with Him. Some of us have had more experiences and learned more lessons. Some of us have to learn the hard way, but we eventually get it.

 

It is in sharing our experiences – in having conversations, sitting in group circles, telling our story – that we refine our faith. In seeing and celebrating God’s goodness in each life. In recognizing God’s grace in our life. In seeing God’s footprints on the path with us, guiding us away from our selfishness and closer to Him. In honoring God’s blessings in all lives, no matter how big or small.

 

But to try to be part of the conversation means risk. It means feeling safe enough to express an opinion or share a thought. It means sharing the whole journey – what you think, what you feel, and what you believe. Because the whole point of community is shared faith – to learn from each other, to grow with each other, and to share from our life experiences. And so what if we don’t agree about an interpretation of a verse? That’s not what it’s about. For we each have something valuable to say and something important to share. There is something we can learn from each other, whether we agree or not.

 

And to say we can talk about anything and everything within a face-to-face setting but not on a daily message board? To say we can’t share an opinion or a thought that would cause people to question their ideology? And to give one person free reign to say and do but everyone else has to be monitored? That’s ludicrous. That’s audacious. That’s ridiculous.

 

So right now for me the struggle is real. The anger is kindled and keeps refiring. The hurt is festering as an open wound. The audacity is glaringly evident and continues to slap. The journey together has been suspended.

 

It is a hard place to be. To feel like Joseph in the pit, wondering what will happen. To not know if or when a conversation can take place to heal toward reconciliation. To see the root of bitterness trying to give itself life in the heart. To wonder how this will all turn out. To be torn – to feel the conflicting emotions of being offended and being humored.

 

For I know at the end of it, I will have to let go and forgive. Whether an admission of error is made or not. Whether a conversation is ever had. Whether a (fragile) peace can be made. And I will.

 

Right now I am walking through it and trying to filter the offense through the lens of God’s love. Right now I am wondering how personally it should be taken.

 

Because it feels very personal. It feels very wrong. It feels very offensive.

 

So I will continue to struggle with it. I will continue to weigh my feelings against the grace of God, knowing that I can end the struggle anytime I wish. I will continue question what happened and what I can learn from it. I will continue to wonder how something so innocent and honest could explode into something so ugly and hurtful.

 

In this moment, I don’t have the answer. I don’t have the solution. But I know one thing – God is good. God won’t waste this opportunity to teach me something important. God won’t let this moment pass by without covering it with His glory and giving me a testimony. God won’t stop loving me or give up on me to make it right and do it better.

 

Because no matter how angry I am, whether I am at my boiling point or not, God has covered me with grace. God has given me the chance to forgive and repent, to make it right. God has given me the chance to grow.

 

God never promised the journey of life would be easy. In fact, Jesus taught repeatedly about trials and struggles in life – to let us know that there will always be curves that come up unexpectedly and hard times we will have to contend with.

 

What we are promised is a divine peace that can supersede all the stuff we deal with – “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). A Savior who understands all our struggles and walks with us through them to the other side – “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15). A command to not let anything or anyone stop us from approaching our loving and generous Father – “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). And a heavenly Creator who is waiting for us to run to Him, no matter what we have done, what we have thought, and how we have reacted – “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy” (Psalm 145:8).

 

And what more could a mere mortal ask for?

 

Marie Fremin, 1/17/16

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Addendum written 3/13/16:

I have been thinking and praying about our situation. I know there are a few words I owe you.

 

I don’t hate you. I never hated you. Yes, I did get furious, but it never turned to hate. Because hate is such a powerful and overcoming emotion that is not easily shaken off. Hate absorbs and hate controls. Hate refuses to let in the light of God in any way, shape, and form. Whereas anger is reactive and temporary. Anger is confined in the situation and not carried over. I was angry, but I never hated you. I never will hate you. If you got that impression, I do sincerely apologize.

 

I should have talked to you. I should have sat down face to face and worked out whatever we could. But in that weekend and in those feelings, I honestly could not. I was unable to have a reasonable and rational conversation. I was unable to behave in any kind of sane way. Because I was still working on processing the overwhelming emotions I was feeling. Because I am deeply scarred and wounded by people in my past – who have repeatedly taught me that opening my mouth results in verbal abuse and accusation. So I let my hurts and my brokenness stay my tongue from resolution. I need to work on this. I sincerely apologize you were caught in that wake.

 

And finally, I apologize that you were offended by the blog. My intent was never to publicly condemn or criticize. My intent was (A) to work through the dangerous and damaging emotions trying to manipulate me; (B) to open a door for God to speak truth and peace to me; and (C) be real about my journey. I see my blog as a mirror to who I am and who God is – and who God is calling me to be. I will never be all sunshine and rainbows, painting a fake ideal of real. My blog is real, and the emotions – as bad and as deep as they are – are real. Because Jesus didn’t come to heal the well – He came to save and guide the sinners. And I readily admit I am a sinner. I am not proud of how I behaved, and I am not proud of how it made you feel. But it is real life that once again points me – and hopefully others – to grace. Unfailing grace. Unending grace. Unconditional grace.

 

I will be honest and say that I will most likely not take this blog down. I need the very real reminder of how dark and low I can go without looking to and leaning on God first. I need the realness to remind me how much I need to trust God with every emotion. At this point, I feel that taking it down would be untrue to the purpose of my blog and would be a minor victory for the enemy, who would turn it into an instrument of shame. If it does stay up, I will definitely post some kind of intro or addendum to clarify. If this hurts your hurt or upsets you, I sincerely apologize. I don’t want to hurt you or offend you, but I do need to be true to myself and my journey.

 

I honestly don’t know where to go from here. You were entirely correct in it now being an unsafe space. I don’t fault you for being wary, and I assume you don’t fault me for being skiddish. I have no comfort level sitting with my mouth closed, feeling unable to share. And I understand you will constantly wonder when (not if, I know) I will “blast” you again. That’s not healthy for anyone.

 

So I am officially stepping back and allowing myself a season to renew, refresh, and regroup. I need time and space to come to a place of full healing.

 

Please know, again, that I do not hate you or want to see harm come to you. Know I appreciate your gifts and talents. Know I appreciate your willingness to apologize (something I have not experienced in the last 10 years). Know I understand we are all human and make mistakes – thank God for grace! Know that wisdom and growth are coming out of this situation.

 

I do hope God continues to bless you, keep you, and guide you. I hope His hand and His favor are obvious on your life. I hope you are well and healthy in all areas.

 

Flow in grace! Marie (3/13/16)

Go Through the Valley!

I was in a small group setting this week, and we were talking about life’s hard circumstances. Things you can’t control. When things don’t go your way. When things seem impossible. When things are frightening. When things look like they are never going to change. When you face the unfair consequences of someone else’s choices. And our natural human response is anger.

Go Through the Valley 1

Yes, we get mad. Yes, God knows we’re going to get mad. Yes, God understands our mad.

Jesus overturned the tables in the temple in anger (John 2:15) at the greed in God’s house. So Jesus understands and can sympathize with us in those moments of anger. But Hebrews 4:15-16 is a great reminder to us that we need to bring our mad to God – “15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

What help do we need? God wants us to bring our mad to Him and submit our raging emotions to His grace.

Why? Because anger is unproductive.  It isn’t an emotion that drives us to change, to repent, to think differently, or to forgive.  When we eat, sleep, and breathe our anger, fear, and doubt, we have shut the door on God being able to reach us and help us.  It keeps us prisoner in whatever chains are currently binding us, and there is no key to freedom as long as we are its willing prisoner.  Yes, we are a willing participant in our anger when we refuse to see beyond it, diffuse it, and let it go.  OUCH!

Yes, bad things happen. God says in Psalm 23:4 that we walk through the valley.  We will go through the valley (trials, hard circumstances, unjust accusations). Notice God does not say “if”, which would indicate the valley is a maybe possibility.  He says it will happen, and we can’t stop it or control it.  But how we respond to it is the difference.

Go Through the Valley 2

God says we need to walk through and be honest about the experience.  Are you mad?  Say you’re mad.  Are you sad?  Say you’re sad.  Are you ticked off?  Say you’re ticked off.  Do you want to shake your fists and scream?  Do it.  This doesn’t surprise God, and it doesn’t hurt His feelings.

The problem comes when we linger in the valley.  When we pull up a chair at the pity-party table and constantly complain about what is happening to us.  When we choose to let go of our hope of redemption and salvation through Him.  When we only look at the negative instead of at least trying to see God’s hand at work (and I admit here that sometimes we can’t see God working for us until we’re completely through).  When we refuse to pray and praise and instead take up a strike against God.  When we stubbornly refuse to cling to hope and instead defiantly sit down and pout. When we refuse to think positively, act lovingly, or behave differently.

OUCH again!  But we’ve all been there and done that.

I think what God was saying in Psalm 23 is that you will go through, but you don’t have to stay. You are supposed to go through without stopping (but for a moment) to doubt, to question, to wonder, to blame, and to yell.  You aren’t supposed to take up residence in the valley, where it’s all about you and your lying emotions.  You’re supposed to keep walking, with eyes focused on God and His promises of hope instead of the storms raging around you.

When Peter was looking at Jesus in Matthew 14:29, what happened?  He overcame the storm, and he walked on water.  But when Peter stopped looking at Jesus in Matthew 14:30, what happened?  The storm overcame him, and he began to sink.  Did Jesus turn His back because Peter allowed himself to get distracted?  No!  Jesus heard Peter’s distressed call and reached out “immediately” to help Peter get back on track (Matthew 14:31).

Go Through the Valley 3

And that’s what He’s waiting to do for you.  He’s waiting for you to stop looking at the storm and look to Him for strength, wisdom, grace, strength, endurance, hope, encouragement, and faith.  He’s waiting for you to decide that He is bigger than the storm – whatever your circumstance is – and trust Him. He is waiting to walk WITH you and help you carry your burdens to the foot of the cross, where He has already redeemed everything for your good and His glory.  He is waiting patiently for you to say, “God, I am furious about this. But I want to let it go because I know You are bigger than my circumstance and have a better plan for my life.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 says we are changed “from glory to glory”.  I believe that “glory” is revelation, but it is so much bigger that God just directly speaking to us.  We are changed by each experience – each hardship, each harsh word, each compliment, each victory, each defeat, each smile, each frown, each silent moment, each doubt, each moment of faith, each fear, each moment of trust, each step of belief, each thought of positivity or negativity.  Everything impacts us and our walk with God.  Each moment is a moment where we allow the “glory” of God to shine in us and through us – or not.  Each day is filled with moments of new opportunity to think right, act right, talk right, believe right, respond right, and love right.

And when we choose to linger in the valley, it’s hard to get anything right.  Because it’s all about me – how I feel, what I want, why I’m right.  And God reminds us over and over again that it’s never all about us.  In fact, I think it’s rarely just about us.  Just as Abram’s belief wasn’t just about him – it was about all the generations of faith that would be birthed because he believed – so it isn’t just about us.  It’s about us reaching out to people and helping them where they are, in their hurt and pain and shame and guilt.  It’s about us helping them walk through the valley to the victory on the other side. It’s about helping people know God’s love and find a new level of His glory in their lives.

And even when we get it wrong, there is His promise that He is still faithful.  2 Timothy 2:13 says – “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself“.  So when we don’t get it right, when we linger in the valley, when we refuse to let go – He is still God.  He is still good.  He is still faithful.  He is still waiting for us.

So are you staying in the valley?

What’s the cost to you?

What’s the benefit to others?

How about picking up your mat (John 5:8) and walking through to the other side?

He’s waiting with open arms, redeeming grace, and unconditional love. For you. Get up and go meet Him. And allow Him to walk with you, to make the valley less frightful, lonely, and dark.

— Marie Fremin, 9/25 and 9/27/15

Great Ball of Anger

I’ve spent the day today wondering why I’m so mad about my coworkers. All the time. Sometimes it is lesser in scope, like a mild eye-rolling displeasure. And sometimes, like last night, it is a massive and all-consuming beast that stops all sense of reason and logic and definitely drowns out any possibility of walking in love.

One thing I know for sure, I am definitely human. Far from perfect (as I have been accused of being). For my humanity is claiming the better part of me and taking over where my heart should lead. Christ in me is taking a backseat to emotions. I’m losing the war. And I don’t know why.

It really bothers me that I don’t know why.

So I start asking questions:

  • Is it unexpressed frustration and unspoken anger?
  • Is it the silent retreat to keep the peace?
  • Is it the lack of defending being right against numerous (unanswered) accusations?
  • Is it feeling unappreciated?
  • Is it feeling isolated and outcast, being outside the front office loop?
  • Is it the hurt in always being told the issues are all my fault?
  • Is it the preconceived angst from all our previous confrontations?
  • Is it the lack of positive morale and feedback?
  • Is it feeling powerless and discouraged in an imperfect hierarchical system?
  • Is it being made to feel like a “poker face” is the only answer?
  • Is it not being able to talk – like adults – about our issues?
  • Is it the “snarky” obnoxious little comments about my performance?
  • Is it the feeling of hopelessness that things won’t ever change for the better?

I can ask a million questions, but I still don’t know why. I want to know why.

Because today I see how anger has become my master. Anger is an all-consuming master that guides my life and takes over all rational thought and reasonable action.

Great Ball of Anger

And I let myself be consumed. Yes, I admit I allowed myself to be controlled and manipulated. And I am ashamed. Even in the moment, I knew it was wrong. The voice was strong and clear to “stop!” and yet I chose to go my own way. Because my way felt good and right and justified. Even though God was whispering to me that His way is better. But I chose me. Just another reminder that I have so far to go!

I can look back on my life and see where I would have been angry every hour of every day, but God has brought me beyond that point. It usually takes something pretty big or somewhat obnoxious to make my blood boil.

But God reminds me, again, that any anger is wrong. The chip on my shoulder is wrong. The preconceived ideas about constantly being judged are wrong.

Here was today’s You Version scripture: For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3 NKJV

And I know I’m on the right track in realizing how wrong I am. Because anger isn’t thinking soberly. Because anger isn’t faith. Because anger isn’t right.

Thank God for His grace! Thank God for His mercy! Thank God for another chance to get it right.

Because in seeing where I have gone wrong – and admitting it – I can turn in the right direction. I can turn (back) to God, who can unclench the tight hold that anger has on me.

And I have to be willing to walk into an office where yes, maybe I am the only one who does not express her anger. Maybe I am the one who does bite her tongue and does not respond to snarky comments. And I am definitely the one who needs to let it go and give it to God. Because it doesn’t do me any good to hold onto it. He can’t work through me when I’m holding onto my anger. And I can’t hear Him – and be willing to obey His way – when I’m clenched up in anger.

So why can’t I let it go? Why does it bother me? At this point, I don’t know. So I will continue to take it to God and ask Him to help me. I will believe that by His grace I will (slowly) become the person I am meant to be. And maybe one day – hopefully in the near future – I will be the person who just lets it roll without stopping to talk to it or accommodate it or respond to it. That’s the person I want to be, a person of peace instead of perturbance. And I can only get there with God’s help.

So loving Father, please help me to not be overcome by angry thoughts and hostile emotions. Help me to let it go and replace it with Your peace and love and joy and gentleness and kindness. Help me to walk in self-control at all times and in all situations, so people see You and Your majesty instead of my anger. It’s a hard road, God, and I thank You for staying with me during all the detours and wrong turns and backtracking. Thank You Jesus that through You and Your sacrifice on Calvary’s cross that I can overcome my addiction to anger. In Your all-powerful name I ask these things, AMEN!

BONUS SCRIPTURES ON ANGER:

  • Exodus 34:6, Psalm 86:15, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 145:8, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2 – And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
  • Psalm 37:8 – Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
  • Psalm 138:7 – Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.
  • Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  • Proverbs 22:24 – [ Saying 3 ] Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered,
  • Proverbs 27:4 – Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
  • Proverbs 29:22 – An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.
  • Ecclesiastes 7:9 – Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
  • Jonah 4:4 – But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
  • Micah 7:18 – Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.
  • Matthew 5:22 – But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
  • 1 Corinthians 13:5 – [Love] does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
  • Ephesians 4:26 – “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
  • Ephesians 4:31 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
  • Colossians 3:8 – But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
  • 1 Timothy 2:8 – Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing
  • James 1:19-20 – [ Listening and Doing ] My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires

Marie Fremin, 6/3/15