Last weekend I took a rest from social media. For three days I was free of the tether we have let social media become.
And to be honest I did not miss it that much.
Instead, I sat on the floor with my Bible and my journal and let God speak. In the stillness and quiet, I was able to hear His still small voice and it renewed me.
What I came to realize, in those moments of simply being without doing anything, was that I was really, really bitter.
I am bitter against the church.
I am bitter against people who claim to love God and yet pursue goals antithetical to all Jesus stood for.
I am bitter at those who support our president without looking at the ripples of his policies.
I am bitter at those who can listen to the cries of black men and women and yet not hear anything they are saying.
I am bitter – and it comes out as over-reacting to everything! It is getting wound up every time I read the news and then getting mad at the dogs and being short-tempered all day. It affects relationships and makes me mean. I am not mean. This is not who I am.
In Woke Church Eric Mason defines bitterness as, “fermented, unrighteous anger and unforgiveness. When we allow it to fester in our hearts, it ends up destroying every area of our lives.”
Even before the stillness I knew this is not who I want to be. I do not want to be bitter and angry and wound-up.
It was time for some repentance. It was time to bring my very bitter, self-righteous heart to God. I needed to lay down my pride-filled arrows and see the nicks and pain I have left with my wild shots. It was time to put aside this armor of bitterness – it does not serve me well.
God does not want a zealous warrior. He wants an honest messenger with a heart overflowing from His love.
“…You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart.2 Cor. 7:9-11 (MSG)
Anger on its own is not bad. We tend to shy away from anger because we don’t know what to do with it. Anger, properly channeled, can move us towards change and an adjustment of the status quo. Anger can be a warning, as Audre Lorde says, “that something is wrong.”
But my being full of judgment and loathing helps no one. It makes me ineffective, closed off, unhearing. I become what I lament in others. In coming to God and repenting of my judgment, worldly anger, and hatred of others – I find forgiveness and freedom.
“But anger expressed and translated into action in the service of our vision and our future is a liberating and strengthening act of clarification,” Audre Lorde.
So what now? First, an apology:
I apologize for my attitude, for my indignance, and my self-righteous anger. I apologize for looking at issues over people and being closed-eared and closed-eyed to the position and view of others. I apologize for not loving others as I should and for becoming part of the problem vs. trying to be a source of salt and light.
“We cannot hate our brother and say we love God”Eric Mason (Woke Church)
I am taking things less personally today. I am trying to see my part and do that faithfully. Nothing will live or fall by my contribution. God is big enough to do what He will when He wants it. I am not called to save the world, to correct people, to highlight the sin I perceive in others. That is God’s role as people come to know Him more fully.
My role is to love.
My role is to believe the best, to be patient, and kind. To not strut or boast, to not be infatuated with my own importance or to behave gracelessly or rudely. My role is to lay down my rights, not insist upon them or my point of view. I am to be patient, thick-skinned yet open-hearted. I am not to be glad when others falter. Yet, I rejoice in the Truth and rest there, knowing that is where my identity, purpose, and hope come from. I am to keep showing up and trust that God has all of this, and to simply keep going.
I often say that if God is not done with the Church, neither am I. If God has any reason for things to keep going, then I have to show up and do my part. I can continue to call people to better, to lay down their rights and pick up the banner of others.
But I am only effective, and am only staying on-point, when I do it all with humility of heart and an understanding that God is God and I am not and none of this is on me to fix, change, or correct.
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