1: a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism
I am not friends with anger. I don't like feeling it. I don't like expressing it. I would rather bottle up my anger than let it out and risk hurting someone because I don't like to hurt people. I would much rather hurt myself than risk hurting someone I love. So I tend to just let my anger swirl around inside me, causing me pain from its safely contained nexus in my soul.
But for the last month, God has been showing me, bit by bit, time and again, that I am angry. I'm angry with family members who don't respect me or my boundaries. I'm angry with people who take advantage of me because I am too mild to stand up for myself. I'm angry at people who have used a national tragedy as a way to catapult their personal agenda into the national debate. I'm angry with God for drawing me close to Him and then leaving me out in the desert all alone to fend for myself.
A few weeks back, I was talking to a friend and saying that I just don't see the purpose of anger. Why do we even feel it? It seems pointless. It makes me feel exhausted and defeated. My wise friend said, "Oh, anger is useful. Anger is all about change. Without anger, women wouldn't be able to vote. Civil rights would never have happened. Anger makes us want to change things." If she's right (and I think she is), I find myself stuck in this vicious cycle where I feel defeated because I don't think I can affect any change in my world, yet I am unwilling to express my anger because I feel defeated. What's the point? I wonder. Why even deal with the anger when it won't change anything?
I've been trying to ask myself lately what I am angry for. It's easy for me to see anger as being against something, but I think part of its purpose for me (and perhaps others?) is showing me what's important. It points to something inside me that rears up and says, "No!" As I've examined when and why I am angry, a clear pattern emerges. What I've seen time and again is that I am angry for my time. I resent it when people impose on my time. I get tired, cranky and downright angry when I don't have voice in or control over my time. When time is in short supply, I feel cornered, trapped, like I am the garbage compactor with Han, Luke and Leia, just waiting for life to crush me.
Even knowing this about myself, I'm not sure what to do with it. Sometimes self-knowledge only gets you so far. I haven't written consistently in months - partly because I haven't had the time and partly because I've only been sad and angry and had nothing good worth saying. It's gone on so long that I'm now afraid to write. As J and I planned out our day today, I said that I wanted to get some school planning for January done and that I should write a blog post. "Isn't should one of those shaming words? Aren't you supposed to avoid doing what you should do?" While that holds true most of the time, I think I have avoided writing or any type of creativity for so long that it is making me more miserable than I otherwise would be. The anger, sadness, despair and confusion need a way out and creativity is nothing if not an outlet.
So here I sit typing by the glow of a Christmas tree that speaks of a season supposed to be filled with joy. I never quite got there this year. Joy seems to be something that lives in a land across an ocean in a distant land populated by people who are nothing like me. Joy is not on my landscape. My landscape is painted angry reds and desolate grays and it is lonely.
I turned 40 earlier this month and in addition to being angry about so very many other things, I am angry that I am trapped in such a hard season of life. What I want is to celebrate a new decade, grab hold of a chance to find out who I am, find time to settle into my skin instead of fighting it. What I have is a stubborn determination to celebrate even when I feel so defeated. Maybe tenacity will help me cling to a hope that I will not always feel this way. Maybe surrounding myself with those I love will help me believe they love me back. Maybe 40 will be the year I can let go of who everyone else thinks I should be and begin to find out who I actually want to be. Maybe I'll find out it's OK to be angry if that shows me what I stand for, not just what I rail against.