I was two years old and I remember the raspy voice of my mother as she screamed out of our second floor window. She was holding me on her hip and cursing at my father through the broken glass. Blood was oozing out of her hand, stilled clutched in a fist. She turned around and hit the wall, leaving behind a dark red hand print that would dry a dingy brown.
Rage grew up in my house like a sibling. I learned to tread lightly, make everyone laugh, and where to hide to make myself feel safe.
I thought I had made it out of the woods after my mother passed away and I moved in with my aunt. I had never caused problems at home or at school. I was a good kid and I was fun loving and smiley. I would find out, however, that the image of my mom’s blood stained hand print was not only left on the wall of a dilapidated apartment but deep inside my conscience as well.
Over the last few years I have met my own rage face to face. It wasn’t made clear until I was married and sharing my whole life with another person. Every time I raised my voice my brain would set off alarms. An argument with me meant slamming doors, a sore throat and tears. I’m still working on it but it’s hard to overcome when no one is talking about it.
Christian women are constantly reminded to be soft and gentle. Our books and devotionals are pastel and beautiful. Our retreats are themed around “Tea With Friends,” “Daughters of the King,” or “Blossom.” We talk about struggling with gossip or finding time for God is our business. We focus on being a Proverbs 31 woman, wife, mother, moving through life with grace and dignity.
We don’t talk about the monsters.
Women who struggle with anger and rage are not few and far between. It’s not a sin that only grizzly men deal with. We have the same potential to be engulfed with it and to act on it. When rage takes hold it’s ugly and painful, and we are supposed to be soft and beautiful.
How are we supposed to deal with it? Where does the rage come from and how do we extinguish it? What does God say about all of this? How does his word teach us to overcome it? Am I more broken than my sisters? Do they deal with this terrifying, destructive, explosive emotion too?
Sisters, we have to talk about it. We have to look in the mirror and be honest with ourselves and then turn around and be honest with one another. Rage and anger are fueled by our shame just the same as any other sin we struggle against.
Drop the flower crown, the pastel palettes, and the family portrait in the pretty meadow. Put your hair up, get the leggings on and that ratty sweatshirt from college and let’s ugly cry this rage out.
How do we move past this destructive mindset and return to God?
We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26)
You need to pray. I’m not talking with a cup of coffee on your front porch and a journal kind of pray. I mean send the family away, lock the doors, and say what you have to say kind of pray. The Father is listening and he’s not afraid of your anger. He doesn’t shudder at your pain or your words or your volume. Rage needs to be felt and there is no safer place to feel anything than in the arms of God; so feel it.
Sometimes it’s hard for us to know how to pray intimately with God. The words get stuck in our throats and all that comes out is a gutteral sob and a bunch of mumbles. In those moments Paul reminds us how the Spirit intercede for us In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
Jesus shows us what a desperate prayer looks like. At the end of his life while awaiting his accuser Jesus isn’t exactly praying from a place of rage but from a place of brokenness. He’s full of fear and he is anguished beyond description. Luke explains to us that Jesus was “sweating blood” (Luke 22:44) as he stayed up in the garden crying out to the Father. He’s begging God to take away the fear he’s feeling and the pain he’s about to endure. Haven’t you ever needed to pray like that? God, just take it away!
Stop what you are doing right now, go away, and cry out to God about that rage. When you want to shout at your kids or your husband or at your roommates throw it down at God’s throne. Raise your voice at him. Be honest and raw with your Father. You are safe in his arms and you can lay down that rage at his feet. He can take it.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3
This is where I tell you to go read the Word and you shake your head and close out of this post. Please don’t actually do that. But you need to go read the Word. I’m not just telling you this because I’m supposed to, I’m telling you this because if you want to find out whether or not you are alone in this battle, go read about all the ways rage can break us but how God can still redeem us. Read about how rage can destroy a family (Genesis 4), how rage can break a promise (Exodus 20:11), how anger can harden your heart (Exodus 8:32) and how the hate in man’s heart led to the death of our Savior (Matthew 27).
But in the midst of all that human emotion and all of that violence you’ll read about faith, hope, and love. You’ll see how God’s own wrath gave into his mercy, how his people faced their enemies with their heads held high, how love overcame the grave.
The Bible is God’s story. It’s a picture of how we fell from paradise and God picked us back up over and over again. The whole book is about redemption. Even in our rage, our violence, our horse voices and broken glass, God is redeeming us. He’s putting us back together and pushing us along a path towards peace.
If we fill our heads with those stories we remember what God’s grace can do. We read the honest details of human history and we see that we are not alone and not too far from him. Words of hope and truth nestle into our hearts that we can call upon when we want to call down fire. Now finish this post and go read your Bible.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of threestrands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12
Eve was created to be Adam’s companion (Genesis 2:18). Women were created to end loneliness. We were God’s solution to the problem of isolation. Yet in our times of greatest need we forget our purpose and we go off by ourselves to lick our wounds and feed our guilt and shame.
Everyone needs a person; someone who clings to them in their darkest moments and loves them fully. This person doesn’t have to be a spouse or romantic partner. Some of the most intimate relationships we see in scripture are friends holding one another up. David had Johnathan, Naomi had Ruth, Paul had Barnabas. When we meet each other where we are, broken, lost, in a fit of rage, we are experiencing community how God intended.
I have struggled with creating intimate friendships. I could write a book about why but the few people in my life who have seen it all are more precious than diamonds. Without them I would be in a very dark place, left alone with my rage, on a path of destruction.
God doesn’t want you alone. He says it’s not good. He himself is the epitome of community; the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, eternally and constantly connected. He wants that for our lives. We can’t stand against our flesh alone. He’s given us the Spirit to fortify us and our brothers and sisters to hold us. Find those people. There are women in your church longing for real connections don’t be afraid to stand beside them and say “I’m really broken and I need you to help me.”
Facing rage is scary and it’s raw and it leaves you feeling vulnerable. It’s in moments like this where God likes to work with us. There is no shame in coming to God or to our sisters with your struggle with anger. If Jesus can cause the sea of Galilee to be still he can cause the storm inside of you to be quiet. It takes work and prayer and surrender but in the hands of the Creator we are all being made new. I challenge you to be honest with yourself, with God, and with your people and begin to walk on a path to healing.