Anger and Introspection
Around 2015-2016, a family with two girls and a boy started attending our church. The girls were around my age, and the boy was several years younger than me, so I didn’t play with him much. Some things were different between our families. At the time, I had eight siblings, five older and three younger, and we were all homeschooled (they went to a Christian school). I lived on a farm, and whether or not I thought so, I was a tomboy. Sometimes these differences would manifest themselves when we found a dead cricket, got a carpet burn, or talked about school. These two sisters and some other girls at church liked hanging out with one another and would rush around the church pretending to be older than they were and talking about school, teachers, and movies. All I could do with them was play the pretend games ten-year-olds like to play, although even the games tended to go in a direction I couldn’t relate to. It seemed as if they were always shunning me, rushing around the church while I walked. They didn’t enjoy what I wanted to talk about, so they just moved on, usually to something I knew nothing about. At this seeming rejection, I slowly became angry. I tried and tried again to be around the girls and play with them, but every time I ended up disappointed, adding a little bit more to my ever-growing grudge. I became so angry that almost every day we were at church together, I would break down and cry loudly in the nursery or another side room.
At home, my second oldest sister said she had had a problem with those same feelings when she was younger. She said she had wanted friends badly but couldn’t find any. The ones that she did find couldn’t relate to her. She told me the only way to get over my problem was to ask God for contentment in my relationship with Him. Well, I did just that. I didn’t pray every day, but I have clear memories of sobbing myself to sleep, asking God to make me content. I didn’t like feeling angry or embarrassed because I’d cry at church so much. At this point, I was learning something, however. God was teaching me that my relationship with Him was integral to my life.
Nevertheless, God did not take away those hard feelings immediately. Even after that family left the church, my anger still smoldered though it wasn’t the roaring inferno it had once been when I had someone to be angry at.
But there was still something I needed to learn that I didn’t begin to realize until about three years after that family had arrived. When I thought of those girls, I thought of the things they had done to leave me out, how they would scream at dead bugs, or how they gossiped about their teachers. You see, I had never thought about how I would show off by picking up the dead bugs, how I was sometimes proud of my farm knowledge, or how I twisted their intentions in my head into something they had never even thought about. They weren’t avoiding me purposefully; they just didn’t know how to relate to me.
That was when I finally let go of my bitterness. When I realized all that pain and resentment was my fault, God scooped up my ugly burden and disposed of it. He had slowly revealed to me my error. I needed to stop looking at what they were doing to me and examine myself. Was I so proud that I became angry when someone didn’t want to listen to me? Were they really being mean, or was my perspective wrong? Did I set my expectations too high as I did with my older sister? (See September’s Thought of the Month) How glorious it was to finally be free from my bitterness!
Even though I was so young (and I still am!), this is a lesson I’ve tried to apply to every part of my life. When we are angry, we can remedy the situation with a simple solution found in Matthew 7:3-5. This is where Jesus talks about one man seeing a speck in his friend’s eye, and he’s trying to pluck it out even though there’s a beam in his own eye. I needed to stop looking at those girls and deciding whether they were right or wrong (maybe they were wrong sometimes, but I can’t remember now) and look into myself for the cause of my anger. With some introspection, I usually realize my anger is useless and give it up.