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"Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil (Ephesians 4: 26--27 NKJV). Other Bible translations caution: do not give the enemy a foothold.
It's easy enough to rattle off this Bible verse to young married couples pouting over dirty dishes and overflowing waste bins, but how does it shake down for the woman in crisis due to betrayal/abuse?
In 2013, in the thick of divorce proceedings after mulitple years of praying and staying, I found myself walking the treacherous trek of the five stages of grief. God willing, to be celebrated beneath a rainbow of joy overarching journey's end.
The 5 stages of grief, according to The Kubler-Ross model, are:
Here's an honest look at the anger I experienced in every stage:
- Denial: Anger expressed over trivial things due to my devastation over the minimiliaztion of the major hurts I could no longer deny.
- Anger: The outward expression (aka meltdowns) of inward pain caused by the blatant disrespect of a broken man, seemingly intent on breaking me.
- Bargaining: This was my "anger management" phase where like Esau (Genesis 27), I consoled myself with the thought of killing.
- Depression: In this stage I conceded to just how vulnerable a position I allowed myself to remain in for years, which included a parallel phase replete with rhetorical questions such as: Why did I eat, drink, smoke (nothing illegal), or text that? Followed with the tearful prayer: Jesus, please forgive me.
- Acceptance: In this stage I resolved to be angry, but I refused to allow the enemy's version of anger to define me. I took an intense feeling I could not redeem and placed it in the care and counsel of One who can. Turns out, Jesus was angry, too.
Anger was a staple emotion in every stage of grief for me.
In The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships, Patrick Carnes, PH. D., writes, "Healthy anger expresses limitations--i.e., what is acceptable and what is not. Blaming anger recycles the history of betrayal and all the intense feelings that are part of a trauma bond."
We were created in the image of a loving God. A God with the capacity for anger. By design, it cannot go unfulfilled. The takeaway for me in "don't let the sun go down on your anger" is simple: Be angry in the care of Light, where healthy anger is used to defend and perpetuate life. Don't be angry in the dark, where the enemy uses expressions of hate hopelessness to further destruction.
When I stopped trying to "pray away" my anger and allowed Light to hold me--angry, enraged me, I was empowered to believe that one day the sun would set on my personal anger (which often felt like a curse), and give way to a bright, shiny cause for victims of childhood sexual abuse.
To create faith-based resources that foster the spiritual and personal growth necessary for sustainable transformation.
In His light, we see light. Imagine what will rise in you.
We get better together,
Published on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 @ 2:16 PM CDT