Anger is a fairly natural disposition for me. It doesn’t take a lot for me to get there. It comes easily.
For the longest time, I was led to believe that anger was a sin. Human anger is a dangerous thing to play with, and can lead to pretty disastrous results. But anger is as natural as the rising and setting of the sun. I didn’t find salvation in getting rid of my anger. I found solace in conquering it.
I’m kind of like the Hulk in that way.
This week, I found myself angry when Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that the only charges filed in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor would be for the bullets that missed her and hit the wall. I wasn’t angry because I was shocked. I was angry because I expected it. I was angry because we live in a society that’s used to decisions that essentially send the message that if you’re going to shoot at people in their own home, the best way to avoid charges is to make sure you don’t miss. Angry is an understatement.
I prayed. I prayed long and hard that my anger wouldn’t consume me. I prayed that God would help me shake these feelings. I wrestled with it. And God refused to call the match.
My relief came from the fact that if I was made in the image of God, then surely there was something redeemable about what I was experiencing. And then I recognized that I’d been viewing anger wrong the whole time.
I’ve heard of the wrath of God before. I’ve heard that it was stirred up by and poured out over human sinfulness. But I always assumed it was referring to gay marriage, abortion, and stuff like teaching kids about science and non-fiction American history. You know. The usual.
But upon further review… God’s wrath is for such a time as this. God’s wrath is poured out when creation self destructs. When humanity, the crown jewel of creation, operates within sinful hierarchies that were not present nor intended at creation. When patriarchy reigns over egalitarianism. When racism overpowers equality. When heterosexism leads to ignoring the imago Dei. When ableism prevents us from realizing the fullness of community. When classism pathologizes poverty. When misogynoir sends the clear message that there is no justice for the Black woman in these United States.
I do not think it’s a coincidence that in the incarnation, Jesus showed up and (to the chagrin of society’s elite) found fellowship with the people on the margins of society. And when injustice showed up. He got mad. He flipped tables in the temple when He saw people being exploited. He called out the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. He got frustrated when the people who followed him tried to prevent the vulnerable from coming to Him for healing and refuge. And for all of that… He found it necessary to sacrifice. He didn’t think of equality with God as something to exploit for His own benefit when He could use it to bring liberty to people under the oppression that Human sin is sure to bring.
I found comfort in looking at the wrath of God. Apart from God, my anger is destructive. I take it out on people. But in Jesus, God flips that around. It’s constructive anger. It’s taken out for people.
So I’m mad. Big mad. And because of that, as much as I’m able to, I’m going to try and get some people free. I want people to experience life in fullness. I want some people to move from surviving to living. So, when you see me flipping proverbial tables, it’s because I see that table as a platform of exploitation and injustice. When you see me criticizing religious leaders, it’s because I see them wielding their status to heap shame on and ostracize people instead of bringing them into communities where they can experience wholeness. I recognized that the only way to live with this anger is to use it to fuel a more radical love, instead of a well worn path of hatred.
I couldn’t shake my anger. I sat with it. I wrestled with it. And in the process, I found God.
Do not let anyone tell you how to feel. You might mess around and lose track of God in the process.
*Editor’s note: a previous draft of this post suggested that Breonna Taylor was murdered in her sleep. Available information suggests that may be inaccurate. Though a clarification has been made, the sentiments remain unchanged.