The greatest thing that ever happened to my marriage is that we learned to laugh. Things that used to make us fight for a month, now we literally look at each other and start laughing instead.
Before reaching this point in our relationship, my husband and I were with our small group, and he told a story about me in the group. There are the public stories that you say and tell everybody, and there are others you just don't share. So I was just sitting there. We were with them for a long time at that point, and then went to dinner together, and I just kept getting more and more upset. I felt betrayed, and I felt unsafe. And that was the lie that was growing. It was just, he can do that and move on and I'm kind of under the bus, and he doesn't even care, you know? Then this bigger narrative began unfolding. Now I've moved from mad to distraught, to questioning our marriage. It moved from something small to this huge marital issue and distrust.
That's why we're talking about this first. I think at the root of a lot of other issues and feelings, we have anger.
Now the sneaky thing about anger is most people, if you ask them if they're an angry person, they will say no. We are accidentally angry, and we don't even realize it. I started realizing that at the core of anger is something that you're going to hate. You ready? It's our rights.
Almost every time we are offended that leads to anger, it's an issue of our rights. All of us have these expectations around how people should treat us, around what people should do for us, around how life should go for us, and even around how God should work. All of us have expectations. And when those expectations aren't met, the first feeling or emotion that rises up, even if we don't name it, even if we don't yell about it, even if it's not public, is anger. And that anger can lead to resentment. That anger can lead to bitterness, that anger can lead to sadness, that anger can lead to isolation, and that anger can lead to all kinds of bigger things.
What do we do with anger?
The first thing that comes up when our expectations aren't met is anger. And then the next question is, what do we do with that? This will be one of the most freeing things for you, but it will also be one of the most difficult. It is this-that we have laid down our rights. The more we walk with Christ, the less easily angered and easily offended we become. This is because we lay down our rights, we lay down our expectations, and we lay down how we're treated. We lay down all of it because that's what Christ did. I am not talking about abuse. I am not. I am talking about the typical reasons we get angry, which is that somebody disappointed us, that somebody hurt us with something that they said. I'm talking about just general reasons, on a daily basis, in healthy relationships-we get mad. All of us do it.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. - Galatians 2:20
So there is a general idea that once we trust Christ that we give up our lives and take on His. This is the idea that we would lay down our lives and pick up Christ. And when picking up Christ, it means is that we would pick up the cross, that we would pick up death, we would lay down our rights and our expectations and what we get out of this life, and we would give up our lives. It is a radical idea, and it is the most freeing truth that you can ever come to.
Anger in our circumstances
Whatever circumstances come into your life, you receive those things as someone who is not demanding their way, but as someone who wants, more than anything, for their lives to reflect the love, the compassion, and the power of God. The backwards way of the Bible is this idea that God can make good of the worst of things. But how do you forgive when there are years of hurt? I'm not saying this is easy. I just know that as we lay down the very things that are most difficult to lay down in our lives, we find freedom. It's no longer me that's even living. It's Christ living in me.
And how did He handle it? He's forgiving the people nailing him to a cross. "Father forgive them. They don't even know what they're doing." They're killing Him, and He's saying, forgive them. There is a radical way that Christ is calling us to live. And it is not easy. It requires constant death, not once-and-for-all death, but daily death.
We all have our issues, but I've found such freedom in just letting the offense happen and not making everything a big deal. There's an exhale that comes with it. So today, the question I want you to walk away with is this: What am I defending right now? If you can articulate that, you're going to start to notice it in your life. You're going to start to see yourself rising up against that thing. And maybe it will be a little bit easier to let that thing rest and let that thing die.