The stuffed bird perched high on Miss Jonas’ head fluttered agitatedly as the scowling old woman jabbed her umbrella in the direction of the pesky neighbor kids.
“You keep off my lawn with your roller skates, you hear? And stay away from my geraniums!”
Underneath all the heavy makeup, full hoop skirts, long gloves, and that ridiculous hat, I was thrilled to be portraying the cranky Miss Jonas in my high school production of “Papa Was a Preacher.”
As I came off the stage, the superintendent of our small Christian school approached me. “I had no idea you could be so mean and nasty!” he shook his head in disbelief.
The truth was, everyone was surprised by my performance. My classmates and teachers only knew me as the painfully shy girl who kept her head down in the hallways and didn’t speak up in class unless called on. Yet as “Miss Jonas,” I could yell and scowl and stomp around on the stage, things I would never dream of doing in real life.
Good Christian girls don’t get angry. At least that’s what I thought. But I was angry. I was angry at the injustices I saw at the age of twelve in Guatemala – kids living in trash dumps or begging for food at busy intersections. I was angry at the hypocrisy of classmates who had all the right answers in Bible class, but would get drunk and high on the weekends. And I didn’t know what to do with my anger. So I kept it inside for years, until cranky Miss Jonas finally gave me permission to be angry – at least on stage.
David, the Hebrew shepherd-turned-king, was angered by evil and injustice too. But rather than let his anger build into explosive rage, he repeatedly and passionately vented his feelings to God. “How long, LORD?” he writes in Psalm 13. “Will you forget me forever? …How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”
Yet David was not just railing against an empty sky or hurling his complaints into a void. He knew that God heard him and cared about his pain. “But I trust in your unfailing love;” David concludes, “my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.”*
Take Your Anger to Jesus
It wasn’t until years after playing Miss Jonas in that high school production that I was forced to confront my anger honestly. The first step was realizing that it is OK to be angry, as long as I don’t take out my anger in sinful ways. Now when I recognize anger starting to build, I take it to Jesus. I know He’s not shocked or threatened by anything I say, and He still loves me after I vent all my rage.
How do you deal with anger? Do you scream into your pillow? Go for a run? Take it out on a punching bag? Take your anger to Jesus. He’s waiting. He’s listening. He cares. “Tell me more, my child,” I imagine Him saying, “Tell me more.”