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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Feeling the Anger and Rage


Actually, for a person in the throws or devastating aftermath of a messy divorce, the more relevant question might be, “Do you ever get PAST being angry?!?”  One of the bits of feedback I have received about my books over the years, was a comment about the index of the first book.  The comment was that among the topics, I had failed to include the word “rage” as an index entry.  Even though there were plenty of devotions in the first volume that addressed anger of all kinds and degrees,  I thought it was a legitimate comment, and so made an adjustment in the second volume.  But stop to think of why anyone would notice such an omission:  they went looking for the word that describes how they felt in their own divorce (or perhaps that of a friend).  When wrestling with the fallout of divorce, “rage” was a word that surfaced for them.

Other words that people might focus on could be bitterness, heartache, sadness, despair, hopelessness…far more than would ever fit in a single book or a simple index!  I have recently been reading some meditations related to grief, and have been struck by the number of times the theme of anger has recurred.  That got me to thinking about the anger that swirls around and within during divorce.  (Again, forgive me for using they as the generic instead of he/she.)

Anger at yourself for not seeing it coming.
Anger at yourself for not having done something to prevent it.
Anger at yourself for putting up too long and not having acted sooner.
Anger at yourself for not having had better judgment in the first place.
Anger at yourself for not having been a better spouse, or listened to your spouse.

Anger at your ex for the hurtful ways they pursue the divorce (and THAT can 
cover a LOT of territory).
Anger at your ex for the way they have betrayed your trust.
Anger at your ex for the cheating things they have done.
Anger at your ex for the things they have said about you.
Anger at your ex for greediness and selfishness.
Anger at your ex for the vicious or endless attacks you have suffered.
Anger at your ex because of all the expenses you have now incurred.

Anger at the legal system for the snail’s pace of proceedings.
Anger at the legal system for the “one size fits all” approach to your life.
Anger at the legal system for the incredible expenses you rack up by the minute.
Anger at the legal system that has its own bizarre definition of fair.
Anger at the legal system for allowing an ex to get away with wrong actions.

Anger at those who take sides against you (maybe even a child!).
Anger at those who have lured your spouse away.
Anger at a society that trivializes the devastation of divorce.
Anger at those who withdraw from you as if divorce is contagious.

Anger at God for not having saved your marriage.
Anger at God for allowing you into a bad marriage to begin with!
Anger at God for not warning you and helping you to see what might happen from the very start.
Anger at God because his followers treat you as a second class citizen.
Anger at God because his people tell you that it is your own fault since you 
obviously were not following God’s commands properly
Anger at God because he seems so absent in your despair.
Anger at God because he doesn’t answer the question, “why?”

This long list is just a few of the possibilities.  The list can be endless...and then the scripture in Ephesians 4:26 bubbles into your consciousness saying, “Be angry, but do not sin.”   Ahh, that is the tricky part.  

The emotion of anger (or rage!) is very real and very strong and a very legitimate feeling.  

But that rage/anger requires self-discipline and wisdom to find appropriate expression rather than sin.  

Perhaps keeping an “anger journal” that can later be discarded or burned could be helpful or creating a daily forgiveness sheet that you take before God in prayer at the end of the day can lay the day’s struggle to rest for you.  

Just as anger is a natural part of grief in the death of a loved one, so it is a natural response in the grief of the death of a marriage (often death by strangulation!).  

Learning to let go, to refuse to become bitter, to find God’s way of forgiveness is one of the most important disciplines to be learned and practiced in divorce.  

The path to peace is never paved with actions born of rage.  Instead, the path to peace walks away from the rage and toward the light of Christ, who chose to forgive even while dying upon a cross.  

Even Jesus felt anger.  

But he lived forgiveness and mercy.  For those of you going through the struggle of divorce, know that though it is hard, your anger will not last forever…unless you decide to adopt it into your heart.

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