Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Long Face and a Short Fuse

This most recent setback has evoked within me angst and anger. For me they seem to go hand-in-hand. If I'm anxious it's typically accompanied by anger. If I'm saddened, often anger is the surface emotion, masking the sadness. If I'm fearful, I show my raging heart, not my racing heart.

Some of it is unique to me; some of it you struggle with, as well. I think a lot of us men, in particular, wrestle with anger. At the risk of sounding like I'm avoiding personal responsibility, I think men in our culture are groomed to be angry and to show anger as our default emotion. Generally, we are taught or modeled that we are "weak" or "unmanly" if we feel or express sadness or fear or loneliness. We're supposed to "suck it up; be a man." If we didn't quit crying, you know what we'd be given--"something to cry about!" The emotions of feeling sad or afraid or lonely are regarded as "weak." And what emotion is viewed as "strong?"

Showing sadness makes me vulnerable; it puts me on the defense. On the other hand, expressing anger is not threatening to me, but to others. It puts me on the offense. Anger is a man's trump card. Talk about a stacked deck.

Of late I find I'm sad for the world one minute and mad at the world the next. None of us can afford to stay in either camp for long. If I remain sad, I will implode and long for light as I languish in the dark night of depression. If I remain angry, I will explode and you will receive all future blog posts from the Peoria County Jail.

I'm in need of grace and seeking mercy. There's a passage in the Bible that cautions us: "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
(Hebrews 12:15) It's as though God is saying that in the midst of all that, on the surface, looks like it's gory and godforsaken--grace is also there. The passage also seems to indicate that if a "root" of bitterness is allowed to grow within me, it may, indeed, blind me to or prevent me from receiving the grace God desires to impart.

God, I don't want to miss your grace.

I want to come out of this a better man, not a bitter man.

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