I’m not sure why, but it has taken me a long time to do an episode on anger. I’ve literally had people from the very beginning of this podcast ask me if I’m going to talk about being angry. Or someone will ask me if I have an episode on anger. I just never really wanted to talk about it. Maybe because I hadn’t finished working though my anger yet.
Suicide, in particular, is so complicated. There are so many emotions you feel with it. Probably all of them. Well, all of the ones that throw you for a loop, anyway. And anger is one of them. And it’s totally okay to be angry. Especially if you’ve been wronged or hurt by someone. It’s also okay to be angry when you’ve lost a loved one, no matter how that loss comes. And maybe here is why I’ve not wanted to talk about anger before. Because at some point you have to identify WHY you’re angry, but also to whom are you directing your anger.
So, why was I angry at his death? Well, probably because my life and everything that I wanted and hoped for and dreamed of was shattered, completely ripped away from me. And I had no say in any of it. I was totally out of control. And at the effect of someone else’s decisions and actions. So I was angry that I was so vulnerable, so dependent on someone else. So attached. So in love. Again, not in control of my own life. To be honest, I was angry because I thought my life should go a certain way. And not go a certain way. I’m guessing I felt like I was entitled for one reason or another. That’s my assessment after really trying to ascertain WHY I was so angry. Which is interesting because we’ve always known bad things happen to good people. It’s happened for decades, centuries, as long as humans have been alive. But somehow when it happened to me, I was incensed.
I was also angry at myself for not doing whatever it was that I didn’t do. Honestly, I’m not sure what I could’ve done differently, but I was angry at myself, nonetheless. Maybe I was angry that I didn’t know what was coming. And, yes, I was angry at Brian. For leaving me. For not warning me. Which is dumb, but I was still angry about that. I was angry that he didn’t take me with him. Ugh. That he left me here to fin for myself after 30 years of marriage and 3 kids. Whew. That’s a selfish way to look at suicide, I know. But I’ve felt this way, nonetheless. It was frightening. I was literally paralyzed with fear. I’m sure this is why I’ve never wanted to talk about anger. Because this is tough stuff. It’s painful. So, I guess I didn’t want to admit that I’ve been angry at myself and I’ve been angry at Brian.
I’ve actually have had people ask me if I’ve been angry at God. I would always say, “No, I’m not angry at God. He can do as He pleases.” See, this line of thinking comes from my core belief that God is Sovereign, ruling over all things. And that in His Sovereignty, He does only good. Even if I don’t understand that fully. But it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to be angry. Because the definition of anger is a strong, emotional disapproval. It’s an emotional response -and being angry just expresses that displeasure or disapproval. It would be a normal human response to tragedy, or anytime our lives are turned upside down. Because we think God should keep us from these kinds of things. He should keep us from hurting so much. That He should intervene and make everything alright. And listen, I totally believed that. For 5 years I prayed through hot tears for the Lord to heal Brian. I begged and pleaded and bargained. I was desperate for his healing so our lives could get back to normal. So I could have my husband back. So, I waited with faith…and belief. I promise I was expecting Him to do that. Especially because I had been serving Him for so long - leading worship, serving in Women’s Ministry, leading bible studies, mentoring women. We had dedicated our lives and our children and our business to Him. I did ask Him, “Why has this happened to me? Where were you God? Why didn’t You do what I asked You to do?” Fortunately, He’d had my attention and affection for many years before Brian’s death, so I knew the problem wasn’t with Him but with me. So, these questions were really just trying to understand why He didn’t act in the way that I had wanted Him to…or even what I’d read about Him doing in His Word and honestly expected Him to do. It’s not wrong to ask God questions. I think He invites them. Mainly because where we are wrong, He can correct us.
The tragedy I experienced exposed my Me-Centric theology. And He graciously corrected my thinking, I believe before I could move into anger. You can hear more about my crisis of faith in Episode number three.
It’s so normal to have a strong, emotional disapproval where we’ve experienced loss. Anger is normal. And when we’re angry, we justify it by blaming someone; the subject to which we are directing our anger is to blame. We must blame someone, right? Ourselves, other people, or God. We do this in order to make sense of things, which our brains are trying to do all the time. We must blame someone. We’re always searching to see where we can lay the blame of our anger.
We disapprove of someone’s actions and blame them for our strong emotional response. We blame them for hurting us. Abandoning us. Rejecting us. We hold onto anger because it allows us justification to continue to blame someone else for our hurt. Because if we let our hurt go, if we don’t hold onto that hurt anymore, then we think that justice won’t be done. That the person that seriously wronged us and never apologized, nor has done anything sufficient to make it right, will just get away with it. So, we can’t let it go. We must make them pay by being angry at them. Unfortunately, the only one who truly feels the depth and wrath of your anger is you. It’s a cancer that eats you from the inside. Usually the person who did the offending has moved on and doesn’t even care that you’re so angry. But you’re left with it. Playing it over and over in your mind. Getting more and more angry. Of course, you have to stay angry otherwise they’ve gotten away with hurting you.
So, anger is also a “protector” emotion. It shields us from feeling some of the more vulnerable emotions. If I can stay angry, then I don’t have to stop to feel the emotions of abandonment or rejection, or even fear and sadness. I don’t have to stop to explore why I’m feeling such a strong, emotional response to someone’s actions. I don’t have to discover what I’m afraid of, or why I’m taking it so personally. I don’t have to recall past experiences that may be the root of my hurt in the first place. I can just stay angry. Guarded. Protected from the vulnerable emotions that feel more raw and tender.
Here’s the problem with that - and if you’ve listened to any of my previous episodes you already know the answer- ignoring and not attending to your emotions can have serious, long-term side effects on your mind and body. If you have a negative message running through your mind that you don’t take captive and correct, it’s going to become truth to your brain and you will begin living out that negative thought as if it’s indisputable fact. Even if it’s based on lies and assumptions.
Not attending to or processing your emotions can and will directly affect the body. Scientists now have more evidence than ever before that tells us that the emotions we experience through traumatic events get trapped in our cells if left unattended. I go into depth of the effects of resisting or avoiding your emotions in episode number 84 - Mindfulness Could Save Your Life. But suffice it to say here that neuroresearchers have found that resisting, ignoring, avoiding your emotions can lead to inflammatory diseases - including Alzheimer’s, Heart disease, Diabetes, Immune system disorders, and some forms of cancer. Unprocessed emotions can also affect the way you think about yourself, how you react to stress, and the health of your relationships with others.
So, what to do? Like I said at the beginning of this episode, in order to take a look at anger, you must explore why you’re angry and to whom or to what is your anger directed. These two questions help to process your emotions by getting behind the anger and examining what other emotions anger might by protecting you from feeling.
Then, the second step is to let go of the blame - the idea that someone else has the power over you to make you feel and hold on to anger. Don’t give someone else that kind of power over your emotions. Don’t let anger consume you. You’ve got to let it go.
The best way to do this is to lay it down so God can pick it up. If you hold on to anger, you know it’s just going to eat you up. It’s going to live in your head, and it’s going to affect the way you live your life going forward. It’sgoing to determine whether you live a beautiful life or not. But if you lay it down, God picks it up.
If you’re angered by someone else’s words or behavior, God can bring peace and calm and new perspectives. He can bring healing to the hurt like no one and nothing else can. He can remind you of your identity and the strength and power that resides in you as the Holy Spirit in order to pick up and carry on.
If you’re angry at yourself, God can bring truth and clarity to the situation. He can tell you what you should and shouldn’t believe about yourself.
If you’re angry at someone who as directly hurt or wronged you, God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” Romans 12:19 He says, “Let me take care of it.” Listen, you know His final reckoning will be greater than anything your personal anger could accomplish. So, lay it down. Let God pick it up.
Now, if you’re angry at God. It’s okay. He can take it. Just be sure that you’re not trying to hide the fact that you are - He already knows. And make sure you’re not turning your back on Him in your anger. Because He’s actually the only one that can make things right. Don’t turn your back on the One that can help in your time of anger. Be honest with Him, telling Him exactly how you feel. Again, He can take it. He’s not going to be mad about it. In fact, He welcomes your honesty. He’s going to help you through this time. He’s gentle and kind. And He comes oh-so-close to the brokenhearted and longs to heal your heart.
Friend, have you experienced anger after loss? Are you still angry? Don’t let the enemy keep you in your anger and keep you from living a full, joy-filled life. Lay it down. Let God pick it up.
Hey, if you’re like me, it might take you a while to address the anger you feel inside after a loss. It’s okay. The grieving process makes room for this in due time. But if you already know it’s consuming your life and having a negative impact, I’d love to be your Life Coach and help you process your emotions and show you how to live another beautiful life.
I’ve put a link in the show notes for a free 30-minute call just so we can see if we’re a good fit to work together and show you how Life Coaching would work for you.
Also, don’t forget to get the free, downloadable guide that complements this episode. It has a few prompt questions that will help you personally work through some of the things I’ve talked about today. It’s like a little Life Coaching at home.
Have a wonderful week, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.