Anger can be a tool and a tyrant.
As a tool, anger can motivate us to do good things for great causes. Some of the best movements and organizations have arisen out of anger over injustice. I think of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) and the work they’ve done. M.A.D.D. started when an angry mother who had lost her daughter to a drunk driver wanted to make a difference. What an appropriate use of anger! There are many, many other examples but my point is, anger can be a great tool.
Anger is also appropriate and motivational when it comes to our relationships. Especially those with a disconnected man. I think it’s normal and healthy to be angry about your loss if you are in a relationship with a disconnected man. You got into the relationship thinking you would get closeness, intimacy, emotional bonding, and genuine connection. Now that you’ve been in it (some of you for years) and are finding that he’s already given you all the emotional-relational connection he has access to, which isn’t much, you’re angry. You didn’t get what you signed up for.
My first wife was anything but an angry person until the years of living with my disconnection kept beating her down and wearing her out. She finally fought back in anger against the emptiness. All of her hopes and dreams for true intimacy were dashed on the rocks and she had no emotion left but anger. Her anger became a tool for self-protection. A gentle, kind woman can be pushed to anger by a disconnected man. You may know what that feels like.
In these cases and others, anger is useful, natural, healthy, and good – but it can quickly become dangerous. Anger is an emotion that was meant to be temporary. We see this in Ephesians 4:26-27,
‘Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.’
‘Do not let the sun go down on your anger’ is a poetic way to instruct us not to let it last long. I think sustained anger is the most destructive emotion in the universe. When anger settles into your heart, you become someone you never thought you could be. The really tragic thing is that anger changes you for the worse, but probably doesn’t much affect the one with whom you are angry. Especially if they are disconnected! In this case, your anger just isn’t serving you. And it could become a tyrant that rules your life.
So, while I encourage you to allow anger to have its place, I also strongly warn you not to let it linger. I know that’s a big challenge for many because of the pain that you’ve had to endure. Pain that was unexpected, undeserved, and unrelenting. No one should have to endure that kind of pain and anger is an appropriate response – not one to feel ashamed of or to shrink back from. So be angry but don’t stay there. But how?
That’s tough because the pain is real, the disappointment is real, the injustice is real, and the anger is real. I could give you some syrupy sweet mumbo jumbo on how to take ‘these 3 or 6 or 12 steps’ to release your anger. Or I could tell you to just get over it. Or I could tell you all the ways your anger is hurting you. All hoping that you’d see the sense in it and jump on the anti-anger express. I think that would be naive of me and unhelpful for you. So I won’t do any of that.
I will though, tell you about someone who overcame anger to accomplish the most amazing feat in all of human history. This person was despised, rejected, dismissed as demonic, laughed at, beaten, ignored, used, betrayed, argued with, conspired against, and ultimately murdered. And had done nothing wrong except to seek a relationship with the ones he loved. And isn’t that what you are doing? All you want is a relationship and you feel like all you are getting is misunderstood and mistreated.
So how did Jesus handle it? Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us.
‘1.Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2.looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3.Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.’
The teaching in the first verse refers to our weakness and doesn’t apply to Jesus. We have to lay aside every weight and the sin which clings to us. Not an easy thing to lay aside things that are clinging to us or to drop weight that has become a part of us (think of dieting). But we must consciously, forcefully put sin away. In our case, if our anger has lingered and become sinful, we have to get rid of it. How do we do it? I think that’s where Jesus leads the way.
In verse two we find out just what Jesus did with His undeserved ill treatment. He endured the cross, He despised the shame, He endured hostility from sinners. And isn’t that what we have to do – short of the cross at least? Sometimes living with a disconnected man, with their ability to blame you for relationship issues, call you too sensitive, resist intimacy, and generally make you feel like it’s all your fault means you have to endure, just endure. It feels hostile at times and you despise the shame of it – just like Jesus. But He endured and beckons for you to do the same. But it’s not a glum faced, hopeless endurance.
Jesus endured for joy and in the end, received the reward. You will too. You will find joy and you will be rewarded – if you just endure. If you can be assured of a good outcome, of joy, and a great reward, would that make it any easier for you to lay aside the anger and wait for God to deliver you? In case you think that’s asking too much and that you have to do it all alone, just check out Jude 24 and 25.
‘Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.’
There it is, the promise to keep you from stumbling (help you endure) and present you blameless in His presence (the reward) with great joy! It’s all there – exactly what Jesus experienced and became an example of.
I realize that all this is future and a lifetime is a long time to endure but don’t you think God can make it worth it? I do. But beyond that there’s a here and now truth I want you to consider. God is a relational God and He wants your disconnected man to be relational even more than you do. He is right now at work to bring your disconnected man into relational obedience and He won’t stop until that goal is accomplished. No one can say how long it will take nor what the path will look like but in the end, your Heavenly Father wants your disconnected man to love you like Jesus loves you. And He will press with all His energy to make that happen.
If you can endure and watch and pray and wait – God will move – and you will be blessed. Please believe me – He worked in my heart and we hear of men every week that He is working in. Men are being changed and women are being blessed. I beg of you to endure and see how God can deliver that which you most crave.