By Kendra Roehl
In our family discussions, we need the wisdom to look past anger into the issues that are really affecting our loved ones. Here is what I’ve discovered in our family story.
The Wisdom to Look Past Anger
We had a conversation several weeks ago with one of our kids who is struggling with anger toward God. It’s understandable, since three of our five kids are adopted from foster care. They came to us with lives they’ve lived without us, unknown and unshared.
The anger came out as a comment during a recent discussion. It was spoken offhand, as though daring to share it aloud meant fully committing to this truth, Our child looked for a bad reaction from us. Instead my husband and I sat with the statement, unwilling to scold or judge. After a few moments I whispered, “I can understand why you’d feel this way.”
Anger can be a natural reaction to things that happen to us or to the people we love. When hard questions about life and why things have to happen the way they do go unanswered, often anger is there running right alongside the longing for why things couldn’t have been different.
All too often, no one dares to ask that question aloud, but it whispers to us in the hollow of night, with no response back. It’s heartbreaking to not have answers for our children. Especially answers that could soothe their heartache.
We’ve realized that anger is also a way to hide or to not feel emotions buried deep below the surface. Anger is a way to ignore the pain and hurt. I understand this myself. I—like my children, like all of us—am averse to feeling pain and conjuring up old hurts I’d rather not remember. I’d much prefer to forget.
Yet left unchecked, anger can destroy us from the inside out. A cancer to our hearts, minds, and very souls, left to fester it will eat away at our joy, our peace, our very lives. Anger, when allowed to grow, can easily turn to hate—hate of self, of others, and of God.
The Wisdom to Look Deeper
Last night, we discussed who Paul once was. How as Saul, he was so hateful that he was willing to murder—and then he met Jesus. We talked about the transformation that took place, the incredible love Paul had for all people after allowing the truth of who God was (and still is) to transform his heart and mind, even towards those he’d once hated.
We pondered together how his anger must have been such a heavy weight to carry and the freedom it seems he found. And then we wondered how it could possibly be so.
And then my husband asked our child, “What do you think God is like?” A shrug of the shoulders.
So I followed up, “What do you hope that God is like? In a perfect world, what would you like God to be like?”
Our child pondered for a moment. “I’d like him to be caring, loving and forgiving.”
I waited a few more moments before responding quietly, “I’d like God to be those things too.”
We ended our conversation by talking about ways we may look for who God is in everyday life. There are so many more things to say and talk about and read through. But, for today, it is enough.
The Wisdom to Look Toward Hope
We don’t have to have it all figured out today. Maybe just being open to the possibility of a new way of being or thinking is enough for now.
This is the hope I cling to—the possibility of change. The hope that we will see the goodness of God, even in the face of all that life leaves unanswered. That maybe we’d begin to see the love, the care, the forgiveness of God all around us in our normal, everyday lives.
That we’d begin to see that maybe new life wasn’t just meant for Paul, but for all of us.
“Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT)
Pray that God will also give you the wisdom to look past anger toward hope.
Wife Step: Ask God to give you wisdom to look beyond just the surface to what may be going on deeper within the person and your relationship.
Kristin Demery, Kendra Roehl, and Julie Fisk—creators of the website The Ruth Experience—are three friends whose lives are intertwined as writers, speakers, wives, moms, and world-changers. Together, they have written about kindness, generosity, failure, struggle, loss, a longing for true friendship and an unwavering desire to live intentionally through it all. They have several published books, including the One Year Daily Acts of Kindness devotional, One Year Daily Acts of Friendship: 365 Days to Finding, Keeping, and Loving Your Friends, 100 Daily Acts of Friendship for Girls: A Devotional and their newly released, One Good Word A Day.