Who Wrestles

It has been ten days since my last blog post.

And in those ten days, I have moved home from campus, settled back into my old bedroom (with a cat who thinks it’s her bedroom), and begun to gain back the weight I’d lost due to stress from finals (read: the hellish week that wrapped up a hellish semester).

It has been a full ten days of meeting with old friends, catching up on sleep and health, and getting plans together for the upcoming three months of summer.

It has been a full ten days of healing.

When I wrote my last post, I was drained of emotion.

I spent so much of my semester worrying, crying, fighting, stressing, yelling, and losing sleep that by the last week, I was completely devoid of the ability to feel anything – which I know now is grace, this ability to not feel, because I could’ve been feeling some pretty crummy things during finals week.

As I’ve settled into my old home routine, I’ve begun to heal and simultaneously begun to feel.

Yet, what’s odd is that the feeling that is creeping into me, growing stronger day by day, is actually one of annoyance…frustration…anger…and it’s towards God.

Believe me, the last thing I want to do is get into a fight with God – considering the fact that I would sorely lose that one (ever read the Bible? We don’t usually win).

But I’ve found myself angry at Him in every sense of the word – a psychological interpretation to having been offended, wronged, or denied.

Oh, have I been offended and denied.

I went through an entire semester of denial, in fact, and I didn’t always see the redemption come out of the suffering.

know suffering is redemptive, I know what happened to me this semester is part of some elaborate plan, but seriously…

You couldn’t have tweaked Your plan a little?

I recently stumbled upon a book titled Angry Conversations with God*,  a memoir about a woman who imagined herself taking God to couples counseling.

I think God and I need to go to couples counseling, because there is a piece of my mind I’d like to give him, much like the author of this memoir told God during their counseling sessions.

While this book was comical and light-hearted, it certainly rang true on so many levels for me – here was a woman who had a lot of trouble in her life, and her most logical response was that of anger towards God.

Tell me that “everything will be okay,” or that suffering is healing, and I may kick you in the shin.

Yet, readers, here is the little nugget of truth I try so hard to find in every post.

Being angry is okay.

Better yet, being angry is good.

Yes, good.

Ephesians 4:26 even tells us “Be angry, but do not sin” – ah! Be angry all you need, but be sure it doesn’t cross the line into sin.

I am reminded of the age old question – what is the opposite of love?

Is it hate? Is it anger? Is it any negative emotion?

No, truly, it is indifference.

If, then, the opposite of love is indifference, can we place anger right beside love?

Yes – for anger is borne from love, anger feeds on love, anger is consumed by love.

Last night, I read a passage from Imitation of Christ. It follows “Oh, how many grievous tribulations did the [saints] suffer…for they hated their lives in this world…” **

You mean, I’m not alone?

The saints, the Apostles and Martyrs and Confessors and Virgins – they hated their lives in this world, too?

And remember, readers, the opposite of love is simply indifference – for anger is borne from love, feeds on love, is consumed by love.

Be angry, but do not sin.

For God Himself is angry.

He angers out of love for us and hatred for that which tears us apart.

He is angry with us if we are the ones who tear us from Him.

So how can I then be angry at God?

Do we never anger towards our parents? Our best friends? Our spouses?

No, truly, anger is borne from love, and it is consumed by love in turn.

There is nothing wrong with anger.

The trick is understanding that anger must pass – but when it does, healing will flood.

I am reminded of Jacob, he who fought with God and won.

Jacob, he who held onto the angel in pain and would not release him until he blessed Jacob.

He who wrestled.

I am he-who-wrestled, for I too am stubbornly holding onto God, demanding that He bless me.

And this is okay.

This is good.

For those of you who are angry with God, do not despair.

For when we are angry, we are most honest.

And when we are most honest, we open our hearts to be consumed by love.

Anger is borne from love, and it is consumed by love in turn.

Be the he-who-wrestles, be angry.

Wrestle with God, fight with God, take Him to couples counseling and sit Him down and pour our your anger.

It was not our anger that crucified Christ, it was our indifference.

This, then, is the crux of the matter.

For there are quotes and verses abounding that discourage the perpetuation of anger.

Indeed, then, remember the virtues of patience and love, of peace and fortitude, of taking things in stride due to trust in Christ.

But remember also that anger is a powerful motivator.

More powerful than indifference.

Let your anger move you to do things in the name of love.

Just as anger is borne from love, love can be borne from anger in turn.

Today, on the Feast of St. Joan of Arc, we remember she-who-wrestled, who rode into battle at the spurring of Christ, into the Hundred Years’ War – is this the face of indifference?

We remember Samson, he-who-wrestled and killed hundreds upon hundreds of men, with a jawbone of a donkey – is this the indifferent, emasculated man we see in most Christian churches today?

St.George, he-who-wrestled, who was strong enough to survive an intense torture session that caused him to pass out three times (and he was resuscitated each time for more pain) and eventually decapitated – the man who slew a dragon – is this the face of indifference?

A friend of mine today used her eloquent language to say, put quite simply, that most saints are just badasses.

Do we become badasses by being indifferent?

Or do we become badasses – do we become saints! – by being angry?

Be he or she who fights for God and with God, who wrestles demons and angels alike.

Be-who-wrestles.

Be angry, but do not sin.

Yes, be angry.

Be a saint.

*Isaacs, Susan E. Angry Conversations with God. New York: Faith Heads, 2009. Print.

** Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis.

***For further reading, try How to Pray when You’re Pissed at God, by Ian Punnett.
**** “There is an anger which is engendered of evil, and there is an anger engendered of good. Hastiness of temper is the cause of the evil, divine principle is the cause of the good…” – Pope St. Gregory the Great
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