This morning, after feeling a little anxious (see blog #15), and after God had walked me through it, I questioned Him about the anger that came to play in the midst of that anxiety. Upon thinking about it, I recalled how God once placed on my heart that if I was angry then I was thinking wrong... And while I knew that was true, and I've tried to readjust my thoughts in the midst of anger before (usually without success), I have questioned God's statement a few times, and did so again this morning.
I then asked what thoughts were the wrong ones, because they all seemed ok to me.
And what He impressed upon my heart was, "It wasn't the thought; it was the attitude behind it..." Hmmm... That had me intrigued, so I looked for the attitude behind such thoughts - thoughts that feed anger when I've been wronged - and I realised there was another thought in my attitude, that spoke a little more quietly than the loud "I have a right to be angry!" thought... It was an attitude, a desire, the thought, to hold back love.
Here I am, longing to love the world as God does, to love as God does, and when an offence comes what I do? I seek to withdraw love from the offender. God does not do that. Love does not do that. Flesh does that. Ego does that. But love does not.
In such a situation, though we're hurt when wounded, we're instantly made sad. However, some of us have mastered the "withdraw love" attitude so well that as soon as the wound comes we're in instant anger mode. But I don't want to live that way. When I first started this journey, I was at a place where I had a huge "stuff you!" attitude, but didn't want to live that way; I wanted to learn how to love even in the face of hatred. This part of the lesson reminded me of that.
Had I not gone to God with the "why am I so angry?" question, I would've continued to think that I was angry because "they wronged me", but that wasn't the case at all.
To wind this up, I'll just say that life without God trains us to react to whatever our feelings dictate to us, and we miss what truth and love and the Spirit is saying to us when we bow to our emotions. I believe many of us Christians have a terrible habit of heeding the cry of our feelings over the voice of God, and it causes us to withdraw love from others. Our flesh jumps on the bandwagon of self-protection and we'll strike out against those who have upset us in some way, and we withdraw love. We tend to over-react and strike out more when the anger increases, but the anger increasing is our spirit reacting to the grieving of the Holy Spirit, but we don't stop to think it's His grief we're feeling; we believe it's our grief and we don't want to feel grief, so rather than deal with grief we withdraw love, take on anger, feel sorry for ourselves and strike out!! We then rush to protect ourselves even more, claiming we trust God but not doing as He instructs [love Him, love others, love our enemy, pray for those who spitefully use us, and so on] and we wrestle with emotions, not realising it's ego we need to be dealing with, not taking into consideration we've just stepped out of God's will by withdrawing love and that's why we feel lousy, and on and on it goes. I reckon this can go on and on and on until we forgive, and when we forgive we see everything more clearly, and healing comes, and so on, and peace returns.
Much of our peace, in this case, is lost when we withdraw love, not because we've been wounded. We suffer more in our own hearts because we're taking on the Holy Spirit's grief - grief born of our actions, not "theirs".
God is love. He does not withdraw. He comes to give love to EVERYONE, and He will use those who are open to Him and His heart to pour that love out to others, and to the world. I believe that when we withdraw love from others, we block God's love from flowing to others, and that grieves His Spirit.
Do Not Grieve the Spirit
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,”
for we are members of one another.
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,
nor give place to the devil.
Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor,
working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth,
but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.