Last night I was afforded the opportunity to learn about the fact that I am an angry person. Or rather, relearn. “Oh, how novel!” you might exclaim. “You? Have anger?” Yes. Now hush, before I become snarky. (I have developed a recent affinity for that word.) What can I say? I enjoy British slang. However, I digress.
Let us back up for a moment and review. My father decided to do some target practice with his new compound bow. Fun, right? Of course, right. (Yenta reference, anyone?) So he shoots an arrow. The arrow proclaims, “To ‘ell with this, I’ve got my own plan!” and proceeds to shatter. Thus, all of the wonderful force with which a compound bow operates, sends the last eight inches or so of the arrow… into my father’s hand. The fun part is that there is apparently a leather strap that goes around the hand while you are holding bow, and the arrow went through it. Thus, he had to loosen that strap in order to detach himself from the bow before walking over to the house and informing my mother of his dire circumstance.
I, during this time, happen to be taking a shower. I must say, it is a little shocking to have your mother burst into the bathroom yelling, “I’m taking your father to the emergency room, he just shot himself! Stay there!” I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten soap off my face and into clothing so fast in my life. However, I still made it out the front door only with enough time to hear them accelerating at a rather… err.. speedy rate up the road in our SUV. At that point it actually sank in that I had walked past a trail of blood in the kitchen on my way out, and I pretty much broke down right then and there. See, now, I’ve been gone for a year. I was particularly unaware (or at least uneducated) about the fact that my father has developed an interest in archery. When my mother said “shot” I thought “gun”. Word association, see. And there was blood on the floor. And a primarily large amount of it in the kitchen sink. So, I premuch broke down and just started saying, “Oh, God, please let him be okay,” over and over and over as I came back inside and sank down on the kitchen floor.
Then it occurred to me: get other people praying. So I started making the rounds with my cell phone, calling my boyfriend, calling my grandparents, calling our closest family friends, calling our pastor… et cetera. Well, when all was said and done, he had to be transferred down to Upstate Medical in Syracuse, NY, in order to have a hand specialist look at it. They ended up pulling it out of his hand right in an ER room rather than taking him into surgery. Two main concerns were the amount of blood that came out initially (a.k.a. had he hit an artery?) and the fact that the arrow was carbon-fiber, very similar to fiberglass. Which, if you are at all familiar with fiberglass, you know that when it breaks it creates lots of nasty little shards. Well, the blessing of it all – in the end, I don’t know how many people were praying, since I also ended up calling a friend at Miracle Mountain Ranch and he spread it to all the people we knew down there, too. Then there’s the fact that when I called our pastor’s family they spread it down through the church prayer chain. But anyway – the blessing of it all is that when they pulled it out – it had been in long enough to allow whatever vein/artery/what-have-you to clot, thankfully – they discovered a couple of things on the end of the arrow. It had a plug of skin that it took in with it, and between the skin and the arrow? A plug of leather from the strap on the bow. The general consensus is that the leather prevented the end of the arrow from shattering when it hit the joint and sending shards of it into the bone. An amazing praise. So, at the moment our biggest prayer request is that it heals well without infection, because they were concerned at the fact that it went across tendons. Apparently the tendons don’t have much of a shield against infection going up the arm, et cetera, so they have him on a four-times-a-day antibiotic at this point. Your prayers are treasured and hoped for.
So, suffice to say that’s been quite an adventure. But, see, it brought up an entirely different issue. In fact, as I said last night, “It’s probably blasphemous to say this, but, ‘Points for creativity.'” God used the entire scenario to once again bring to the forefront of my mind the fact that I am angry. I thought I had dealt with it, but apparently it’s still there. I remember sitting in the “Grief and Grieving” seminar and hearing the instructor tell us that anger is a natural course of grief. I remember sitting in chapel sessions this summer under Mark Brenner’s teaching, and hearing that anger is not the sin, it’s what we do with that anger. The choice we make when we realize it.
Well, the irony of my anger was that it was not your typical “tragedy/trial” anger. If anything can be said to be typical of those situations, that is. I was not angry at God “for letting this happen”. You know, the whole questioning and shaking of the fist that says, “God, why did you let this happen?” No, I was angry, I realized, that I was emotional. That’s what it came down to. Because I was on the phone and someone asked me if I wanted them to stay on the line – “There’s not much left to say,” I replied – and they simply asked, “But does it help?” I evaded answering that question. Or rather, I outright ignored it. It bothered me. Because.. it did help. But I wouldn’t admit it.
I don’t get that. But the more I thought about it, the more I processed and realized that I was angry, the more I realized that it all came down to the fact that it did help. That I couldn’t handle this on my own. And I wanted to. Oh, how I wanted to. I was angry. I was angry at God for making me an emotional being. Yet again, the exasperation of, “If I could just handle this coolly and without emotion, it would make it a lot easier.” I thought I had a handle on that line of thinking. But I realized, it was not that I had a handle on it – it was simply that the situation that kept bringing it to light earlier this year, changed enough that I didn’t have to face that anger anymore. So, as I was saying: “Points for creativity,” God. *sigh*
So if anger isn’t sin (“‘Be angry, and do not sin‘: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, neither give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27)… but your choice in how you respond to it is when sin can occur… how do you sort out if you have honestly dealt with it before God and that it was just anger in the moment, or if you have simply stuffed it away in the corner of your mind because you dislike and quite frankly, distrust, emotion? In that portion of Ephesians, Paul is referencing back to Psalm 4:4, where we are told, “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.” That’s a pretty tall order, to be still. It’s reiterated in Psalm 46:10a – “Be still, and know that I am God;”. I happen to like Psalm 46, actually. It was one of my memorization passages while I was at Miracle Mountain Ranch this past year.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountain shake with its swelling.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God.
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved.
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end o the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in tow;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is out refuge.
The Henry Commentary in my e-Sword had some interesting things to say regarding this passage, actually:
Not disturbed, not much moved, with fears of the issue. If God be for us, if God be with us, we need not be moved at the most violent attempts made against us. (3.) Deliverance to the church, though her dangers be very great: God shall help her; and who then can hurt her? He shall help her under her troubles, that she shall not sink; nay, that the more she is afflicted the more she shall multiply. God shall help her out of her troubles, and that right early – when the morning appears; that is, very speedily, for he is a present help (Psa_46:1), and very seasonably, when things are brought to the last extremity and when the relief will be most welcome. This may be applied by particular believers to themselves; if God be in our hearts, in the midst of us, by his word dwelling richly in us, we shall be established, we shall be helped; let us therefore trust and not be afraid; all is well, and will end well.
*sigh* … “Therefore I will not fear” … “God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;” … why do I not remember this during times of trial? LORD, use this time to cement this, not to my head where it has been, but to my heart. Trust is the outpouring of my faith, so where is my trust? No, I cannot trust my emotions. I’m human, therefore they’re faulty. (Now if only I could get myself to think that about human logic. It’s human, therefore it’s flawed. Come on, mind, wrap yourself around that without running from the room!) But I can trust God. And He gave me emotions. So they’ve got to be there for a reason.
He threw another one at me on the way home from the ER last night, actually. Only an answer-hungry INTP would be reading at 3:30 A.M. on the way home from the ER. But I digress. I am currently reading Wendell Berry’s collection of essays entitled What Are People For? Intriguing, right? Well, the essay I was reading was Style and Grace, a dissertation on the inherent difference between Hemingway’s “Big Two-hearted River” and Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It”. In that essay, he pulls an excerpt from the latter:
“Are you sure you have told me everything you know about his death?” . . .
I said, “Everything.”
“It’s not much, is it?”
“No,” I replied, “but you can love completely without complete understanding.”
“That I have always known and preached,” my father said . . .
“I’ve said I’ve told you all I know. If you push me far enough, all I really know is that he was a fine fisherman.”
“You know more than that,” my father said. “He was beautiful.”
“…but you can love completely without complete understanding.” If I fear what I do not understand, I will fear love. I will fear life. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I Timothy 1:7.