Ooh, here’s a rough topic: anger. (I saw you shudder!) What a touchy thing anger is! It wears so many masks, and hurts so many people, tears apart so many relationships. Unrestrained, it really is a beast. For years I never really thought much about it. I knew I sure didn’t have an anger issue. (Actually, I found out quite to the contrary, but I’ll let the story speak for itself.)
Last summer, I suddenly realized that I had been angry at someone for two years. (No, I didn’t miss-type that. In fact, that’s why I spelled it out, so you wouldn’t think it was a typo.) Two very, very long, angry years. And I didn’t even know it! I had absolutely no clue about the root of bitterness – no, the beast – that was tunneling into my heart.
But how? How could so much anger and bitterness hide for so long? Honestly, when it comes right down to it, I’m not really sure. People say that everyone has a blind spot – maybe that was mine. [bunny-trail] Actually, I think I have more than one blind spot, but that’s beside the point. [/bunny-trail] The point is, that I had no clue whatsoever that I was capable of such hatred. (To borrow a quote from a certain talkative droid, “I never knew I had it in me.”) Because when I look at it now, it really was a sort of hatred.
I first got an inkling of the monster hiding inside of me when I was complaining to a friend about some minor thing this person had done, and my friend said “You sound kind of bitter.” Bitter? Me? Impossible! …Or was it? I dismissed the incident as inconsequential, until a couple weeks later when I was reading a booklet, (How You Can Experience God’s Love and Forgiveness by Bill Bright, if you want to know) for our girls’ Bible study. It was talking about confessing our sins to God, etc. when it said this:
“You may need to apologize for having a bad attitude toward someone. You may need to ask someone to forgive you for the way you have treated him or her … It’s important to make restitution to others because you cannot maintain a clear conscience before God if you still have a guilty conscience before people.”
Wow! Was that ever me! It hit me between the eyes like a sledge hammer. Suddenly I realized that what I had blindly been doing all along – the sarcastic remarks, the hints that he hated me, the hurtful words – were all a result of the hideous beast I had been squashing into the shadows of my heart for two whole years.
I knew what I needed to do…but knowing and doing are, I’m sad to say, not the same thing. (One is the bow, the other the arrow, if you want an analogy. And you can’t kill beasts with bows if you don’t have arrows.) I was terrified! How could I possibly tell him what I had done? There was no way I could catch him alone, much less be able to say anything without crying! (Not to mention the heart attack I’d most certainly have.) So I got an idea. I wrote him a letter and took it to church with me, intending to give it to him before the service. Long story short, I chickened out, and after the service he was nowhere to be found. So much for that!
Then I got a better idea, and gave the letter to his sister at our next Bible study, so she could give it to him. Talk about cowardly! I waited in mortal fear for the next Sunday. What would he do? Would he try to talk to me in private? I desperately hoped not – I would have cried for sure. Turned out, my fears were unwarranted. He wrote a note back – and sent it through his other sister! I almost couldn’t bring myself to open that messy piece of folded notepaper, but I did. It read:
“Callista, please don’t feel bad about it anymore. I forgave you the moment I was made aware of the need.”
I cannot by any means describe the pure joy that washed over me. Saying that I wanted to jump and scream (however unlikely that would be, given my shy personality) doesn’t cut it, but maybe the fact that I was too relieved to even notice that he misspelled my name will give you an idea. When we greeted each other a few minutes later, no words were exchanged but the look in his eyes, and the extra tight handshake said it all – I was forgiven! I’m not exaggerating when I say that I could not sing that morning because of the tears of joy.
It’s so hard to deal with the beasts hiding inside of us, but the smile, the “I forgive you”, is so worth it! And when we stand up and have the courage to deal with our beasts, they can really turn into something beautiful. So why wait? Why let them grow for two years, and deal with the pain that comes from it? Please, don’t make the mistake I made. Don’t wait. No matter how hard it is, get that beast out before it grows into a real monster. You won’t regret it, I promise.