Abuse creates a deep wound, leaving behind many emotional, psychological, and spiritual scars. Our experience of reality is altered, our view of the world skewed.
Above all, abuse teaches victims that they are worthless.
Anger is a step in the process of recovery from abuse, in much the same way that anger is a step in the process of grieving. As victims, we mourn what we have lost – what has been stolen from us. The time, the innocence, the confidence.
Initially, victims may have difficulty “finding” their anger about this loss. They will frequently rationalize the actions of their abusers – minimizing the harm done, and blaming themselves for events (though without cause).
The rationalization is simply how victims cope with damage so profound they can hardly describe it, and emotions that threaten to be titanic.
When Christians characterize victims’ anger as unacceptable, they imply – intentionally or not – that victims are unacceptable to God. Instead of freeing victims from abuse, this affected piety on the part of Christians reinforces victims’ sense of worthlessness. It pushes victims away from God, depriving them of His consolation.
In response, some victims will swallow their anger…just as they did in the abusive setting. However, abuse impacts us at a fundamental level. Denying our true feelings about it can produce numbness. When anger is denied, all our emotions become muted.
This is not a satisfying way to live. Worse, it puts us at great risk of depression which is often described as anger turned inward.
Detour to Christ
God understands victims’ anger. In fact, He shares it.
But rage can, also, consume us. If we nurse our very legitimate grievances long enough, bitterness will eat away at our lives like battery acid. Christ offers us a better alternative.
Anger is, in effect, a necessary detour abuse victims take to Christ.
And anger is a condition precedent to forgiveness, something many Christians fail to understand.
This is not to suggest that victims must endure Christ’s anger before they can be forgiven. Rather, victims must experience and release their own anger before they can freely choose whether or not to forgive their abusers, and move on with their lives.
“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth” (Ps. 37: 8-9).
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12 responses to “Necessary Anger”
Anger was a huge part of my survival and I held onto it for many years. After becoming a Christian the Lord asked me one day, “Would you like to get rid of the anger?” His question actually scared me because I didn’t know how to live without it. He taught me how.
I hope you don’t mind me reblogging this. It is so important survivors realize they don’t have to live with anger.
I appreciate the reblog, Sue. Anger served me, also. After years of abuse and submission, anger can feel like strength to us. Anger is almost heady but, in the long run, destructive.
Reblogged this on Cyber Support Group and commented:
Anger was a huge part of my survival but the Lord showed me, many years later, I don’t have to live with anger. He will heal our anger if we allow Him to.
Anna, thanks for this posting. We all go through the healing process so differently. For years, I felt that I could not get angry. It was like I had been conditioned to never get angry and just remain silent. But, it was all turned inward and resulted in depression. Writing my book opened up many wounds and brought much healing as the suppressed emotions all got brought to the surface. I really wished that I would have allowed myself to become angry instead of just feeling hurt because I know that it hurt me.
Anger and depression are frequently linked. But, as you say, each person’s path to healing is unique. I am so glad you have chosen to share yours. You are a great encouragement to all those who know you and your writing.
Awe, you are so sweet. Yes, every path is different… but the Key to overcome is the same yesterday, today, and forever. You are a blessing, Anna!
Anna, you brought out these steps to healing quite well and succinctly in your blog post. After years of church abuse I had had enough and remained depressed and angry for 12 years until I finally buried the hatchet with God and quit blaming Him for what “His men” did to me. I finally got tired of being sick and tired and made peace with Him in my heart and realized that HE is God and I am not and humbled myself before Him in prayer. It was not long until He finally moved on me with His great love once again. If only I would have learned this lesson earlier. Now I have come to the place in my faith where I truly believe that all things that happen to me will be used for my good as I continue to love Him and obey His voice. I also have learned that I no longer have to submit to men who seek to take His place in my life with their superiority attitudes. Having our proper boundaries restored is an important part of being healed as well, don’t you think?
God bless you, dear sister!
I fully agree that restoration of appropriate boundaries is a part of the healing process. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Michael. You are a dear friend. God bless you, too.
This post was very helpful and meaningful to me. Thank you. Gentle hugs, Dani
I’m glad, Dani.
Anna, your words have spoken hope for and to me. For decades my anger was hidden from me, hidden so deep within me that I was detached from (just picture a body and the head being detached from it, that is the kind of emotional detachment that I mean) it and its powerful force. It was written upon my face so that other people could see it and occasionally they would mention it to me, but I could not see it. Now today, I can face and own my anger, it is no longer hidden from me. But, religion made anger out to be a BAD thing for a Christian to have and especially if they expressed it. I have heard many a scolding message across the pulpit for many years, condemning anger and many scriptures were applied that brought down heavy condemnation and shame to us who had anger issues. The man who preached these messages was himself a very angry man, who was harsh, authoritarian and dictatorial; abusive and castigating.
So once again you have reached me and I am blessed to have you as a friend.
I am grateful to have struck a chord, dear Q. Have a Happy Turkey Day! ❤