Several years ago in a counseling class I learned “anger is a secondary emotion.” This frustrated me because, I am quite sure, sometimes anger is just anger. Sometimes we have every right to be angry. It doesn’t have to be because we are fearful or hurt or sad, does it? Sometimes we need to “stew”. Right? Yesterday I was angry. And I had every right to be. My anger was completely justified. But it didn’t help me.
Have you ever noticed that stewing makes prayer difficult? I realize today I had trouble praying yesterday because I didn’t really want God’s perspective on things. My perspective was justified. I was right, darn it! I really didn’t want God to realign my thinking with His because then I would have to surrender my “rightness”. But stewing instead of praying paralyzes momentum. So I cracked open the door to prayer and the Holy Spirit flowed in through the words of loving friends and family who care more about my integrity than my feelings; who will speak the truth in love, even if the truth stings. Once my thinking was realigned with the truth, that I was trying to remove the speck out of my brother’s eye when the plank in my own was blinding me, the sadness broke loose. I realized all my anger, frustration and indignation were really a type of scab to cover my broken heart; and not a very effective one. Anger is somehow more acceptable in our world than sadness; angry words more comfortable than tears.
The truth is I’m sad. I have to say goodbye to a season of my life and start a new one. While this is exciting in some aspects, it’s scary and sad in others. I’ve been trying to focus on the excitement and make myself and everyone else feel better; trying to be strong. I’m mourning and I didn’t even realize it. But you know, once I did realize it and embrace it, an incredible peace settled over me. The sadness is there, yes. But there is also an immense love and appreciation for the dear saints to whom and with whom I have had the privilege of ministering. Lesson learned: once stewing is set aside, there can be momentum even in sadness.