On Being Angry and Figuring It Out
by Holly Kooi
I want to fight.
I do — honestly. I have been in a ‘take it to the mattresses’ zone since late fall and I am still hanging out in there.
Identifying the Source
I mean well after 2017 was underway, I knew the world was struggling. I watched the marches, I read the angry tweets (do not recommend), I heard views from every side and angle. I was aware. I thought I was woke. But I kept thinking, We’ve been here before. Everything that’s been said has already been said. What else is there to say?
And I lived in the safety of those thoughts for exactly ten months until I experienced only a sliver of what women around the world experience when it comes to sexism.
In short, I was the punchline of a sexist joke, inside a church, standing in a semi-circle of adult white men. I watched them laugh and slap their legs and throw their heads back, entirely amused by the words they chuckled out at my expense. I was shocked and humiliated and laughed along because I didn’t know how to stand up for myself or my gender. I felt utterly defeated, ashamed, and stupid.
One month later, I attended a seminar on leadership. It was interesting and inspiring, but nothing came up that I didn’t expect to hear on such a topic until he posed this question:
Do you own who you are?
For reasons I’m still unable to explain, this question wrecked my world right there on the spot as a quiet but firm “No” popped into my head. I looked around to see if anyone was as shaken as I felt, but everyone seemed to be outwardly unaffected by the words our speaker left dangling in the air. I thought about his question for the rest of the day.
And all of the next day.
And all of the next week.
And all of the next two months.
Then, finally, I figured out what happened.
God took my blinders off. Before then, I knew who I was, but I wasn’t confident in my identity. I knew I was a woman of God, but I didn’t know what he thought about me. I knew what I thought about injustice, but I didn’t know how God wanted me to view it. In my search for knowing what God says about me and injustice, he exposed the lies so I could better see and understand his truth.
But now I’m angry. Now I see how women are treated in the world and in the church. Most likely not by accident, I’ve been meeting more and more women who’ve left church because of how they were made and told to feel, or because they don’t know how God views them and the answers they were given felt deeply wrong. Now I see how immigrants and refugees are treated, and now I see that my sweet, amazing, beautiful Iranian and Afghan friends who are my family could be taken from me and sent somewhere else at any moment. I see how people of color are put down again and again and again because the crayons they would use to draw their self portrait are different from the crayon I would use to draw mine.
So, yeah. I’m hurt. I’m upset. I’m enraged. And I want to fight.
Working It Out
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to fight and what it means to delight, and for me, an excellent example of how fighting for the Father versus delighting in the Father can be found at the arrest of Jesus.
Jesus is about to be arrested, and dear Peter, furious and scared as ever, takes out his sword and cuts off a soldier’s ear. Peter saw injustice. He saw wrongdoing. He was afraid for Jesus, and he was afraid for himself and his friends. He wanted to fight and had every reason to do so. But Jesus, whose heart’s desire was in complete and total alignment with the Father’s, told Peter to put away the sword. Jesus put the man’s ear back where it belonged, and let himself be taken prisoner.
Jesus delighted in his Father.
Though Peter is a rather extreme example of what not to do for God, the Bible does talk about fighting all throughout the Old and New Testaments. Some passages are on actual wars while others are pleas and commands to not quarrel and start drama. And there are others that describe life and actions to be taken as a Christian. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul talks about wearing armor to fight against evil – the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth (Eph. 6:11-17). In 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul talks about a “good fight” (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7) in his walk with Christ.
Fighting is part of the Christian faith – but which kind of fighting do we want to be known for? Is it the kind where our anger, pain, and fear control our next move and next word, or is it the kind where our delight in God guides our next move and next word? Are we like Peter with swords, or are we like Jesus, picking up bloodied ears off the ground?
The Hope at the End
I wrote this post like a Lamentation Psalm. David, with good reason, begins many of his Psalms by identifying the source of his anguish, the source usually being a thousand somebodies out to kill him. He then lets loose every bit intensely raw emotion. He doesn’t stuff it; he acknowledges his fear, hate, anger, sadness - all of it - and tells God about it. Then he works through it, sorting through his feelings and God’s character. And to conclude, he hopes. He delights in the Lord by allowing him to guide his next move.
I wrote it this way to make sense of my own buzzing mind; to see it in front of me and understand where I’m at in the journey of my own Psalm. Honestly, getting to the “hope” section of the Psalm is hard. I’d rather stay in the raw emotional section where I can feel righteously angry all the time. Being angry makes me feel like I’m changing the world one scoff and tweet at a time when in reality, I’m accomplishing less than zero. So I’m going to try to move toward hope. I’m going to delight in order to fight the good fight. Maybe that means writing or speaking, or simply listening. Whatever my fight looks like, if it’s in alignment with the desires of my Father’s heart, then it is in alignment with mine.
Holly lives in Vienna, Austria with her handsome husband and two tiny kids as a life mentor and an ambassador for Jesus. She loves meeting new people and hearing their stories over a cup of coffee in one of Vienna's fantastic cafes. She's passionate about people, writing, photography, journaling, and mental health. Currently, Holly is working on a way to bring mental health awareness to the forefront of conversation in Vienna. To connect with Holly, visit her blog or follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.