In my last post, I talked about an example of misplaced anger on my part. I was angry with myself for not succeeding. I felt like I’d let others down. I should have been able to solve the problem. Since that situation, I’ve subconsciously felt icky about myself for over three years when the topic surfaces in my mind.
In praying about this issue further, God has opened doors of understanding. I’ve realized how badly I felt for letting others down and how frightened I was that they would think less of me. I asked God why the opinion of others has always been so important to me. Why I often let my perceived idea of what others are thinking affect my confidence and joy.
Anger is a secondary emotion–a symptom that something else is happening deeper within. Maybe fear, frustration, hurt, guilt, rejection, hopelessness, etc. The list is long. Too often, rather than dealing with the underlying root feelings, we cover them and hope they go away. This inevitably leads to anger.
In a book I am reading, Overcoming Emotions that Destroy, I’ve learned that there are three basic categories or sources for anger: (1) hurt from unmet needs, (2) frustration from unmet expectations, and (3) insecurity from threatened self or self-esteem.
I can see all three of these happening in my childhood. Specifically, God showed me that as a child, I never really felt loved for who I was. I thought I had to perform. I had to be good enough so others would like me as much as, or even more than someone else. If I perceived any competition, I shrank away from the relationship. It was all or nothing for me.
Of course, I wasn’t mature enough to realize what was going on. I just knew that I never made it. And I learned to hate myself. Beat myself up for every wrong word or action. Second guess everything I did. I believed I knew what others were thinking and received it as truth. Truth that I used to prove my own case. I was not worthy of love and never would be.
What does that mean today? Unfortunately, old habits die hard. Although I realize the danger of this trap, I still find myself feeling good when I’m successful and losing my joy when I can’t beat something or even fear I’m about to fail.
I’ve never considered myself an angry person, but I’ve come to discover that’s only because I was thinking about being angry with others. When it comes to how I feel about myself, I now realize that I harbor a lot of unforgiveness and am so thankful God is drawing this out of me. God says to forgive. Not a suggestion, but a command. That includes forgiveness for self.
In the story I’m working on, Biz has harbored anger against her mother who is now deceased. As an adult, Biz realizes she misunderstood the childhood situation completely. What Biz interpreted as harsh behavior on her mother’s part, was actually the mother’s sacrificial way of protecting her daughter.
Now Biz is suffocated with grief and regret. She despises herself for how she treated her mother and longs to apologize. She yearns to know her mother’s love. What would God say to Biz? How would He have her deal with this pain? Is it possible for her to let go for good?
Barbara E. Haley
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