Have you ever been angry with God? I mean spitting nails, fists clenched, foaming at the mouth, screaming at the sky angry with God? I had heard people talk about being mad at God, but it never really made sense to me. As far as I was concerned, I could not imagine what could possibly happen in a person’s life to give them reason to be upset with God about anything . . .
A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling pretty down. I have been out of work for many months, which means I’m spending even more time than usual alone. Then to top it off, I couldn’t afford to pay for television service anymore, so I was left with nothing to distract me from being alone. All this being alone led to feelings of loneliness and then to sadness because I was alone and lonely. So, as I always do, I started to talk to God about it.
As I was talking to God, I began to feel myself getting irritated. Then I would check myself and then continue to talk with Him some more. The more I talked, the more irritated and aggravated I got. Before too long I found myself downright mad! The conversation went something like this:
Me: “Why do I have to be alone, God?”
Me: “Haven’t I done what you’ve asked me to do?”
Me: “Haven’t I been patient?”
God: <insert cricket sounds here>
Me: “Why can’t I have a romantic relationship?”
Me: “What is the BIG DEAL???”
By now, I was yelling! I was literally shaking my fists in the air and pacing all over my house. I was slamming things around. I WAS MAD!!! At this point, I’m glad I live alone, because I think anybody witnessing my behavior may have called the men in the white coats. At first, I kept apologizing to God because I felt hurt and angry. At first, I kept thinking I was going to be struck by lightning (not really, but it sounds better than I thought I might be crossing a line). At first, I thought I was doing something wrong, but a funny thing happened.
As I continued to fume and foam, to cry out and cuss (yes, I did it) to rail and rant I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I felt like God was almost chuckling at me because it had taken me so long to finally feel comfortable with Him. Like a father comforting a crying child, I felt a “there, there” pat on my back and could almost hear God say to me:
“I never said you couldn’t have those things.”
And just like that, I wasn’t mad anymore. Just like that I realized, rather sheepishly, that I had been the one imposing restrictions on myself. It was I who had put myself on this path. I was the one who suffered in silence and watched man after man fall in love with someone else, and
I understood. My whole life was laid before me and I saw the makings of my own loneliness. I heard all the self talk that said I wasn’t allowed to tell a boy that I liked him, because good girls don’t do that. I saw myself putting on a brave face as I fell in love with a friend, and hoped that he would feel the same thing. The conversation continued, bobbing and weaving in the boxing ring of my thoughts,
Me: “I’ll get hurt.”
God: “You’re hurting already.”
Me: “But I’m afraid I’ll be rejected.”
God: “That’s a chance you’ll have to take.”
Me: <insert cricket sounds here>
God: “You’ve been unfair to the ones you loved.”
God: “Every time you’ve fallen in love with a friend, you’ve been hurt because you haven’t been honest with what you’re experiencing. You kept your affections a secret, but you expected them to share openly and reciprocate love that you never expressed. You expected them to arrive at a destination without letting them get on the train. How is that fair?”
Me: “You’re right, God!” (the audacity, I know…but that’s what I said in my head.)
And I was done.
I was done being angry. I was done being afraid. I was done being hurt. I was done being lonely. I WAS FREE. I was liberated from the negative self talk. I was unfettered by the chains of self restriction. Not only was it OK to tell someone how I feel about them, I have a RESPONSIBILITY to be honest with my emotions. Yes, I might have to put myself in a position to be hurt, but the hurt will be on the front end of a relationship when feelings are new. I won’t have to wonder if a man knows I’m attracted to him romantically, he’ll know because I’ve told him.
I realize that most of you dear readers came to this realization back in the third grade with the giving and receiving of the profoundly moving “I like you. Do you like me? Check Yes or No” note. In contrast, the very idea of that was mortifying to me. The joys and the indignities of love that most people face as children and teens, I painstakingly avoided. The fine art of romantic relationships, the give and take, the push and pull – I was too afraid to hazard. As a result, here I am, a grown woman, who is suddenly faced with the realization that I have to go back and start living life in a whole new way. What have I got to lose? Nothing ventured is nothing gained!
In fighting with God I learned not one lesson, but two. Aside from the obvious, I learned that it is not only OK to fight with God, it is necessary. Lest you think me a heretic, allow me to elaborate. A needful component in every relationship is the ability to resolve conflict. A relationship with God is no different. There will times when you don’t agree, and the way you handle the disagreement is an indicator of the relationship’s health. When things are new, you hold back because you don’t know what to expect and you don’t want to hurt feelings, so you make excuses. You say, “Awww, that’s OK.” even when it’s not. Eventually, as intimacy grows, so does the potential for conflict. The deeper intimacy gives way to deeper issues and oftentimes, result in differing views. When the intimacy is deeper, the risks and the rewards are greater. In my life, I rarely fight or argue with people. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in a verbal altercation with someone, and still have several fingers left over. Growing up in my house was a different story. My siblings and I battled over everything. We held back nothing. The difference was intimacy. I knew that disagreements with my family would not result in a permanently broken relationship. I knew that no matter what, we would still be family. That’s the way I felt fighting with God. I felt safe. I knew that I could be mad with Him, and we would still be family – I wasn’t going to lose Him.
In the scriptures, we see an epic example of this in the life of Jacob. Jacob had just swindled his brother out of a blessing, and he had literally pulled the wool over the eyes of his father to get it! He was persona non grata at his house, and he was running scared. We pick up the story where Jacob has taken his wives, servants and children along with all their worldly possessions, and have escaped under the cover of night. Jacob goes back to the camp site alone when
“. . . A man came and fought with Jacob until just before daybreak. 25When the man saw that he could not win, he struck Jacob on the hip and threw it out of joint. 26They kept on wrestling until the man said, “Let go of me! It’s almost daylight.”
“You can’t go until you bless me,” Jacob replied.
27Then the man asked, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob. You have wrestled with God and with men, and you have won. That’s why your name will be Israel.” 29Jacob said, “Now tell me your name.”
“Don’t you know who I am?” he asked. And he blessed Jacob.
30Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face, and I am still alive.”
Fighting with God has had far-reaching implications in my life and in my relationship with Him. I find that I love Him even more. I feel like He loves me even more, if that’s even possible! It’s like the last barrier to intimacy has come down. I’m certainly not suggesting that you go out and pick a fight with God, but I do recommend being real with Him. But be prepared, because just like Jacob, you will not walk away unscathed. Everyone who wrestles with God walks away a different person! I know I did.