Let me share a snippet of an e-mail that I got from a very dear friend:
"I have read a lot of what you have written and even tried to respond silently, but that didn't work. What I want from you for both me and you is to just hear/read just one word of anger. I could quit being so "ocd" with my prayers for you.
"Seriously, just a hint of something about the unnecessariness of it all. Maybe just a little righteous indignation?
"I love you more than my luggage but show me something so I can know you are not stuffing that anger."
Hmmm. I have a special friend, and every time he is mulling something over, he always starts out with "Hmmm." This topic is definitely one to be mulled over. I have been doing that a lot since I got the e-mail.
Am I angry? I have asked myself that and prayed about it and believe the answer to be "No." Allow me to clarify. Have I had moments or even days of anger? Absolutely! I would be lying through my teeth if I tried to say that. My family is torn apart. I have known heartache on a level that I never knew existed. My girls have had to adapt to a "new normal" in life that they never saw coming. Anna "liked" a group on Facebook recently that was titled, "My life has changed so much this year." Was this all unnecessary? Absolutely! Is it enough to fill someone with the toxic poison of bitterness? You bet. I have felt the temporary satisfaction as the poison of that bitterness flowed through my veins. But here was the turning point. I hated the way that the anger made me feel more than I enjoyed the satisfaction of carrying that anger around. Here is what I have found. Initially, the toxic poison of bitterness feels good as it flows throughout us. After all, it is justified anger. Don't we deserve to wallow in it for just a while? Here is the trick of the enemy that we have to recognize. He wants us to feed off that anger. As the matter of fact, he treats us to the cheapest "All You Can Eat" buffet of bitterness. He doesn't charge us a dime for the meal, and the table is always overflowing with endless supply. In time, it will consume us. We start feeling anger not only toward the person who wronged us, but toward others in our lives. We start lashing out at innocent victims because the anger has become a part of who we are. It becomes the way that we communicate with people. The toxin takes over and destroys us bit by bit. This, my friends, is a terrible place to be.
As Christians, God wants to fill us with His presence. His presences brings peace. Let me clarify one thing. It does not happen overnight. It takes time, much prayer and encouragement from others in the faith. In the onset, it is a choice. You choose to forgive, even when you don't feel like it. When your mind begins to wander to the contempt that you feel, you choose to think about something different, something pleasant. You continue to make that choice day after day. I don't know how it happens, but one day you wake up and realize that you are not mad anymore. You are at peace, and it is a wonderful feeling. Of course, sometimes things happen and you revisit the bitterness buffet. But when you make the right choices over time, you find that it becomes so much easier to walk away from this table and go to God's table.
Here is the other reason that I cannot be angry. As a result of my divorce, many great things have happened in my life. I want to be careful in saying this. I know it was not in God's will for me to be divorced. However, I know in my heart that He is able to bring wonderful things into my life to redeem this situation. I have had such an outpouring of love from my friends, family, and students. I always knew that I had many people who loved me but never realized the depth of that love and how they were willing to travel the dark paths with me.
Three weeks ago, my journey took an unexpected turn. I wasn't prepared for the turn, as it took me quite by surprise. A very kind and wonderful man has slipped into my life. His name is David, and I have no doubt that God brought him into my life. He has traveled a similar journey to mine and has survived as well with a stronger faith. He understands my fears and insecurities, and he makes me laugh. Yet again, this is one more blessing that has come into my life.
Finally, the journey has made me stronger. I know now that when you reach the point where you think all is lost and you can still have hope, you have made it. I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, and my Good Shepherd was with me all the way, loving me and carrying me through every dark moment of the soul. Just as I now know the depth of love of my friends and family, I also know and have experienced the great love of my Heavenly Father as He walked that dark path with me.
So this is where I am. I am not trying to sugarcoat and make things sweet. It has been real and raw getting to this point, but I am here, and I am thankful for the lessons that I have learned and the blessings I have gained. Why would I choose anger, when I can choose peace and contentment?
One of my favorite verses is found at the end of Genesis. It is the end of the story of Joseph when he is reunited with his brothers, the same brothers that sold him into slavery. He said to them, "What you intended for harm, God has used for good." It is my prayer that this could be said of my life!