Anger is funny, funny thing. It masks itself in many ways. Some are more obvious (like withdrawal, sarcasm, and the like). Others are a bit more subtle, which was revealed to me just after my Personal Retreat and during the course of The Gospel Coalition conference.
If you recall in my last piece, my twenty four hour Personal Retreat revealed that I was holding onto some anger that I didn’t realize was there. People I needed to forgive was a priority on my list. But the Lord wasn’t done revealing to me the ways in which anger had penetrated my life.
During the conference, I had an opportunity to sign up for bonus events being held alongside the conference. One of which was an event put together by Serge.org, which not only had a two morning breakfast with speakers from their mentoring and leadership team but offered a one hour mentor session. I jumped at the opportunity to speak with a veteran in the ministry field for advice/direction/suggestions for the ministry work I was involved in.
In my session with Hunter Dockery, I laid out exactly what my ministry work was about and where I saw it going. Then I shared some obstacles I was facing in that process. I thought that this was the place Hunter would be able to help me. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that Hunter was less interested in the work, and more interested in me. How was I personally being affected, how was my marriage, etc. This was personal, and exactly what I needed to explore… I just didn’t know it.
I’m going to spend my time on this piece speaking to just one of the questions I was asked, but I’ll probably talk more about this in future blogs.
As I shared about some of my obstacles, and how I felt as if I was failing those I was serving… Hunter basically asked me how I felt about those who were impeding the work. I said that I was frustrated, and that is when he laid it out there…
Frustrated is the Christian word for angry.
Well, crap. If frustrated is the Christian word for angry, I may be angrier about more things than I realized. Between my personal retreat and this moment, I was seeing things with more clarity. I imagine it like a large room that is completely dark, without any single light source but multiple lamps scattered through the room. The Lord was taking me one step at a time, turning on one lamp at a time. Illuminating the room a little bit more versus flooding me with more light than my eyes could handle in one flip of a switch.
I was being put into a position where I would have to face and own these feelings, in order to correct them. And the only one way that was going to happen, was to keep turning on more lights.
I’m thankful for my time with Hunter, not just because he helped me to see this underlying emotion but instead the greater gift came with the next question.
“When you imagine the Lord speaking directly to you, what does He say?”
I imagined a God who was frustrated with me. Those were not my exact words to Hunter, but something that I understood later.
Well, if frustrated is the Christian word for angry… then I realized that I imagined that God was angry with me. Let down. Disappointed. It was in a flash of clarity that I realized that while I believed God’s promises for others, truly and deeply… there was a part of me that saw myself still broken. That my daily mistakes and failures were evidence that I still wasn’t living up to the par.
Hunter said words that will stick with me forever.
“You need to preach the Gospel to yourself, every morning.”
I’ve since thought about that, and made a choice that I need to shut down and replace the words that roll through my head.
I had listened to too many lines, believe the lies, labeled myself based on what others have said or done, and it became a liability that was holding me back from living in the freedom gifted by Jesus Christ. The Gospel wasn’t just something to share with unbelievers but something that we believers need to be reminded of constantly. The world tries to overwhelm our senses to the point we forget the promises that God has made to us.
This is an issue that I am still working through, with the Lord’s help. Lamps are still being turned on. However, I find myself already more at peace as I preach the Good News to myself, every morning.
And a few times throughout the day, as needed.
Because God so loved the world (and Gena) that He sent His only Son, and whoever (this means Gena too) believes in Him will have ever lasting life.
Jesus paid the wages of (Gena’s) sin. You (and I) are new creations in Christ, washed clean by the blood of the lamb. Sons and Daughters (including me) that were adopted into His family, where nothing can separate (even me) from Him.