Angry, Mean, and Redeemed

by Elizabeth Trotter on June 18, 2015

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I lost my mind this hot season. Became unglued. Went a little nuts. Whatever you want to call it. Yes, everyone’s crabbier and more uncomfortable this time of year, and it would be mighty convenient to blame my meltdown on the heat. It would also be unfair, for I can’t in good conscience blame the external temperatures for my roiling internal mess.

I’d been angry at some disappointments in my life for a while, and it was spilling out into irritability and rudeness with my husband and children, who did not deserve my unkindness and snappiness. I refused to talk to God about these things because I was convinced He couldn’t change any of the circumstances anyway, and I didn’t want to be even more disappointed by His lack of intervention. So I just kept getting angrier and angrier, more and more irritable, and more and more distant from God.

One Sunday morning I hit a breaking point. I sat down with the question, “How did I become such a whiny witch?” (You can substitute more colorful language if you want; it would still be true.) I actually locked my door so my kids couldn’t walk in on me. I got down on my knees — something I rarely do while praying — and confessed and repented to God.

Then I did something I hadn’t been able to do for weeks, because I’d been staying too angry: I cried. I cried and cried. I lamented the terrible person I still am, how ugly my heart still is, how much sin I still have, how badly I was reacting to seemingly everything. I implored God, “What are you going to do with me??” His immediate reply: “Forgive you.”

Forgive me?? That’s what He was going to do with me?? He wasn’t going to give up on me? He wasn’t going to punish me? No, He said He was going to forgive me. But I suppose there’s nothing else to do with a sinner like me, but to forgive. I almost couldn’t believe how badly I needed absolution. When I received forgiveness, I suddenly found I could forgive those who had sinned against me. And my evil attitude toward my family dissipated.

In the end, I found it was unforgiveness that was keeping me from God. I had been avoiding the pain of repentance. Feeling the weight of my own sin hurts. I’d rather stay angry at someone else’s sin. But I was continually frustrated by my angry outbursts towards the people I wasn’t actually angry with. I kept asking myself, “Why can’t I get it together?” The answer was simple: because I hadn’t gone to God.

Going to God was such a relief. It’s the only thing I can describe it as. It was a relief to know that after all these years when I act like a witch for weeks on end, God still forgives. A relief to know my sin was not the end of me. A relief to know that no matter what, I can go back to the Cross, back to my Savior, back to my Lord. I got off my knees a forgiven person, lighter and freer, and ready to live again.

And so it was that this spring I experienced the truth of an old Keith Green song:

 

My eyes are dry, my faith is old, my heart is hard, my prayers are cold

And I know how I ought to be, alive to You and dead to me

 What can be done to an old heart like mine? Soften it up with oil and wine

The oil is You, Your Spirit of love, please wash me anew in the wine of Your blood

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About Elizabeth Trotter

Elizabeth loves life in Southeast Asia, something she never imagined was possible. Before moving to Asia with her husband and four children in 2012, Elizabeth worked in youth ministry for ten years. She loves math, science, all things Jane Austen, and eating hummus by the spoonful. Find her on the web at www.trotters41.com and on Facebook at trotters41.
  • MaDonna

    Thanks for sharing Elizabeth. I, too, have found myself in a puddle of tears because of disappointment which led to sin. I have to share something I read this morning. As I read your words this came to mind. I just finished up the study by Beth Moore on 1&2 Thess. Today was on grace and looking at the full meaning of it. She ends with a list of word pictures and I will share the two that I ended up writing in my journal.
    “Grace treats us like we already are what we fear we’ll never become.” – I’m amazed by that every single time I’m in that puddle and God forgives me.
    “Grace is a room of a thousand mirrors, all reflecting the face of Christ.” I’m not sure I’ll look in the mirror the same way ever again.
    Thank you for being vulnerable once again, for pointing to Christ – may you and I see Christ each time we look in a mirror, or at least realize the grace that is extended to us each time.

    • Elizabeth Trotter

      YES! Love that Beth Moore quote. “Grace treats us like we already are what we fear we’ll never become.” Thank you for sharing that.

      It seems like you and I must be on very parallel spiritual journeys this year, as we’ve connected over several issues like this in the past few months. I’m so thankful to have someone to walk through these issues together. 🙂

  • Scott and Jamie Durham

    that song! love it.

    • Elizabeth Trotter

      I know, right!?! So glad we share a love for it 🙂

  • I’ve had lots of thoughts swirling this week about the issue of anger, so thank you for this. How often do we keep struggles anger hidden for fear of what others will think? Yet how often is anger a big red flashing light that something deeper is going on?! Something that needs addressing, not a sweeping under the rug. Love your authenticity, Elizabeth.

    • Elizabeth Trotter

      Yes! — A big red flag that needs addressing, not hiding. There’s so much shame when we don’t bring it out into the open, but that’s where it needs to be for God (and His people) to actually help us with it. And I love you too, Danielle. 🙂

  • Anna Wegner

    I’ve been angry, mean, and redeemed, too. 🙂 It’s good to know that God keeps giving us more grace and a new day to start over!

    • Elizabeth Trotter

      Yes, so thankful! His goodness is so much better than we can ever imagine.

  • Pamela

    This could easily be me but I long to know how you knew God said “Forgive you.” I have attributed what comes into my mind as God before but it turned out not to be Him. And so, while in tears, I long to have this experiece as you, I am afraid it will happen again. How does anyone know God has spoken to them?

    • Elizabeth Trotter

      Oh Pamela, my heart goes out to you in this! It can be so hard to know where God leaves off and we begin! I do have a grid for this, if you want me to share it. . .

      But first I want to differentiate between hearing God speak in the intimacy of our relationship with Him, apart from the decisions we make. Different people have different ways of interpreting circumstances for decision making, and it’s far too easy to seek God about a decision, think you’ve heard from Him, and then doubt it when trials come. It’s easy to look back and think you didn’t hear from God right, when things go wrong. And they may go wrong apart from your actions, and get complicated because of someone else’s actions or sins. So that’s not what I’m talking about here.

      I also don’t think it’s wise to look back and think, “Oh, I heard from God wrong” or “I misinterpreted Him.” It’s not very helpful, it only brings pain, and who’s to say it was wrong anyway? So I guess I just trust God in decision making, that even if I make the “wrong” decision, He is there to pick up the pieces, and guide me along further. I’m not fatalistic in that regard, so perhaps that helps.

      What I am talking about are these kinds of stories, when God whispers something to your heart. For me, these inaudible messages are often 1.) Unexpected. It’s sort of how God gets my attention — from an answer I couldn’t have come up with on my own, in that time and place. In this instance, I was really low, thinking God had given up on me because I had given up on myself, and so the unexpected nature of the answer tells me it’s from Him and not my own mind. Another time it was about believing God loves me. I was in a place of unbelief when the clear message was “Believe.” ( http://velvetashes.com/jesus-loves-me-this-i-sometimes-know/ ) So when an answer catches me off guard like that, it feels more like it’s from Him than from my own imagination.

      Another way I measure His voice is by 2.) Scripture. Does the message I just received line up with the truth of the Bible? If it does, I know it’s Him, and that I just needed a bigger, more intimate, experience of Him to really receive the truth *emotionally* instead of simply reading the text intellectually. In this case, the truth of Jesus’ constant forgiveness of us as we are walking with Him is backed up by Scripture. Another time it was about not being distracted and following Jesus alone. (http://www.alifeoverseas.com/distractions-and-the-voice-of-jesus/ ) When these things are in the Bible, I trust these experiences to be from God, because they are verified in the Word.

      And lastly, I measure these messages by 3.) Fruit. Does this truth bring me lasting peace or joy or love? If it does, if it quiets my spirit and brings me closer to God, then I trust it is from Him. I believe Jesus’ sacrifice is for all time, for all my sins. So it’s not that I have to earn His forgiveness by asking for it each time I sin. Rather, repentance is for US. It brings us back to God, back to the truth of His holiness and sacrifice for us. Repentance is for us to *feel* the forgiveness that is already accomplished. And so when that conversation with God helped me to continue walking in forgiveness of myself and others, and the anger dissipated, then I know it’s from Him, because kindness and forgiveness are His will for us (again going back to Scripture in that). That other time when I heard God tell me to “Believe” He loves me as much as He loves my husband, I was able to walk in peace after that. I didn’t have to strive for anyone to pay attention to me anymore, because I knew viscerally — and not just cerebrally — that God loves me. And I didn’t fight with my husband over those things anymore. That, to me, is the fruit of the Spirit at work in my life and marriage, and so I trust the message was truly from Him, because I began to walk in freedom, freedom that was long-lasting.

      So that’s pretty much my grid for trusting that God has spoken to me: 1.) Unexpectedness 2.) Scriptural Alignment and 3.) Fruitfulness in my life. I’m not sure if the times you are talking about are these kinds of things, or whether they were decisions that had to be made, which are much more difficult to judge. I understand the fear that it will happen again, or even that God won’t speak to you when you seek Him — I’ve had those fears too. It’s scary to ask Him to talk to you, and feel like you’re not getting any answer! Just know I’m praying for you in whatever it is you are seeking God in right now, that you will hear from Him, and that you will know what you heard is from Him, and that it will bring the much-desired peace, joy, and love in your life. {Hugs to you right now}

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