In college, I lived with three fabulous girls in Boone in a tiny house that was always cold, and ironically, called The Hot House. It was truly the absolute best. We spent years laughing over Carlie’s old lady pajamas and my tendency to be confused about how being an adult works. We screamed about mice and the occasional roach. We spent nights curled up in Carlie’s teeny bed while Claire would read us Cold Tangerines. We dreamed about our futures; celebrated victories in the ministries we were leading. We cried at our wooden table on chairs with cushions that fell off constantly. What did we cry about? Majority: Boys that did not like us back. Boys that stopped calling us. Friendship drama. Feeling left out. Feeling disoriented about what we were supposed to do next.
On those nights, when I would be sitting at the table crying and eating Nutella straight from the jar, Hannah would be crying while washing the dishes, Carlie would be crying watching a cartoon, and then we would magically discover Claire crying in her room we would all say, “Ugh. Life is so hard.” Then I would typically share the Nutella.
And at that point in our life – it really really was so hard. I was just discovering that I needed anxiety medication. I was going through a horrendous break up that tore apart my heart, soul, and friend group. Several things happened one year in particular that made me upset and angry, but for whatever reason it felt manageable. All of those girls would say I was not quick to be angry, that I was consistently looking for a way to respond in a gracious manner. I could quote over and over again, “live in a manner worthy of the Gospel.” I would kind of lie and say, “It’s really hard but Jesus is better and I want Him and I want peace more than I want anger and bitterness.” Truthfully, it wasn’t all that difficult to respond graciously in those moments. I was getting to look super holy and it wasn’t even that cumbersome, score!
It’s so hard to look at those times and not laugh at myself, because I just had no freaking idea.
I have been married for almost three months. Three months. The level of anger that I have experienced since being engaged and married is beyond what I could have have dreamed. Circumstances are challenging. The level of resentment that I can feel towards aspects of our situation is frightening. The anger that has come is unrecognizable to me. I have never been like this before – with rage constantly beneath the service. I snap at Customer Service people now. I almost lost my mind yesterday because I couldn’t find a tape measurer (very rational).
I have kept telling (lying) to myself that this was everyone else’s fault. It’s my husbands fault. It’s the court system’s fault. That if things weren’t so damn hard, I would be DELIGHTFUL to be around. “This is not who I really am,” I have said to myself. “These circumstances have made me this way.”
The problem is, these difficult things did not create my anger and bitterness – it revealed it. It’s as if God is saying, “Actually, darling, this is who you really are. Welcome.” Marriage and parenthood magnify and expose our weaknesses – they, unfortunately, show us who we really are. And for me, it is not a pretty picture.
I had a dream of how I would handle marriage and stepmotherhood, and let me tell you, it is not panning out. My husband has been doing all of this way longer than me, and I ask him all the time, “How do you do this?! How?!”
He is calm. He is steady. He is slow to become angry. When I ask him “HOW?!” He always says the same thing, “I just got too tired to live that way. Aren’t you tired?”
Y’all, I. am. so. tired.
My husband then reminds me what I already know, that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
That He invites us to rest from our sorrows and shame.
That He has made us for Himself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.
He knows every inch of our hearts, our anger, our bitterness, our selfishness, the depths of our sin and adores us and calls us His children.
It’s so painful, but in this season I am getting an extra dose of, “you are a whole lot worse than you think you are. Welcome to the club.” I have never needed the Gospel more. I have never needed to believe with every ounce of my being that love wins. It does, it does, it does. It covers a multitude of saying the wrong thing, of lashing out. It was first displayed on the cross, covering us. I can’t walk confidently in my own strength, I have to walk in His.
We are able to let go in confidence that He is able. Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.
How do I work through my anger now? Every morning I drive down Battleground Avenue and say to myself, “Jesus, You are good. You are good. You are good.” I tell it to myself quietly, trusting that repeating it will allow for it to soak into my soul. On my worst days, as I have mentioned before, I feel cheated. But what do I think I deserve? I ask the Lord every day to bring me back to a place where I can say, “It’s really hard but Jesus is better and I want Him and I want peace more than I want anger and bitterness.”
And then I trust that He is not through with me yet.