“May God bless you with holy anger.” (Franciscan blessing.)
Anger is Not a Sin – The Sin Series – Part 5
Anger is not a sin.
My daughter is five and feisty. I thought that door slamming wouldn’t happen in our home until the kids were teenagers. I was wrong. My daughter is five, and she slams doors better than most fifteen-year-olds.
And it's no wonder. I was a good door slammer, too. (May still be… shhh). But negative emotions, such as anger, were not tolerated at home, or at church. Especially for women.
We wanted happy, smiling, faith-filled (women) Christians (because being faith-filled means that you’re perpetually happy and smiling… blah). In faith communities, negative emotions are often equated with a lack of faith or the inability to surrender. They’re seen as lesser emotions entertained by an immature mind.
But there was always a lot of emotion in my body, and my home, and my life. What was I do to do with it all?
I stuffed them down, tried to pray them away, never spoke about them. I was full of “faith, ” and that was indeed seen as a virtue. But anger? I was frightened of being labeled a “woman gone wrong” (I’m writing an essay on this…). So I kept those “lesser” emotions kept.
I was more acceptable to others, Church leaders, and God when I was “happy, positive, faith-filled, affirming” girl.
Once, a ‘Church Leader’ looked me in the eye and told me that they don’t “do complicated.”
So I took all my complicated emotions and ideas and history and sadness and brokenness and anger and hid them beneath a veneer of “praise the Lord.”
The Church as a whole has seemed to not tolerated anger, sadness, and hurt very well. ‘They' want people to get prayer, read their bible, worship in the service until they’re happy again, their attitude picks up, their happy faith has returned.
“We don’t do complicated” (or anger, fear, doubt… insert seemingly negative emotion here) inadvertently sends the message that God doesn’t, either. He loves us more when we’re happy and uncomplicated. This message tangles up with our faith.
We quickly forget that Jesus was a human who expressed the full range of emotions.
He cried, yelled, and lamented. He prayed, asked questions, and engaged arguments over scripture. He got down in the dust with people; he ate with outcasts and the socially unacceptable and the complicated.
His blood boiled.
Jesus got good and angry.
And there are things that we SHOULD get angry about it. If we don’t, I have to wonder if our faith is even alive.
The scripture tells us not to let our anger lead to sin. But it doesn’t say we shouldn’t be angry.
Anger done right (which takes practice… grace) leads to action, transformation, and amplification. It can be a catalyst for freedom fighters, truth seekers, and healers alike.
And let’s face it: life is complicated. If our “faith” leads us to clean, sanitized, uncomplicated places, that do not make our blood turn and boil and zing, then it's not faith at all but rather a denial, a coping mechanism, a way to hide yourself away from the real world and your real self.
I want my daughter to stay in touch with what makes her passionate, and if that means we live through some good door slamming sessions, so be it.
Anger is not a sin.
It just might be what you need to wake up.
Written by Liz Milani