Let me start off by saying: YES. I am a Christian. But you wouldn’t necessarily know it by looking at the last few days of my life.
I’ve experienced an anger/rage that I’ve never felt before. I’m not sure exactly where it came from, or how it developed, but I know it was there – one of the most “present” emotions I’ve felt in a long time. It wasn’t necessarily directed at any one specific person – but rather several. That’s the best kind of rage, isn’t it? The kind that doesn’t discriminate. The kind that devours any and everything in its path without a second thought. That’s the sort of rage I’m talking about, and it was alive and well in my heart.
The worst part isn’t that I was so angry; it’s that I nurtured that anger as if it was necessary to my survival.
If there were topics to discuss that ignited my rage, I was sure to bring them up. If there were people that could fuel my fire, I was sure to engage with them whenever I could. If there were things I could see – whether Facebook or Twitter posts – that would propel my rage to a whole new level, I made sure to read them. I was all about my anger.
But know this – that the anger didn’t come out of nowhere. It was somewhat provoked. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to hate everyone. My anger had some merit – even though all that came after that point didn’t. I’ll be brutally honest, I found it liberating. To say whatever I wanted, to feel what I felt, it was exhilarating – until it wasn’t.
All at once, I was exhausted. Physically, it had taken its toll. Emotionally, I couldn’t process a thing. I was all over the map. I’m not talking about months or years spent in anger and hatred and disdain. I’m talking about a span of just 3-4 days – which I discovered is more than sufficient to destroy you.
What saved me? It wasn’t a Bible verse. It wasn’t a sermon. It wasn’t me talking it out with someone. It certainly wasn’t my own understanding.
It was the Holy Spirit – and He didn’t cause me to see anything new. I didn’t turn compassionate all of a sudden. I didn’t grow more understanding. I didn’t suddenly have love placed in my heart. None of that happened. What He did was stir up an internal conflict in me that I couldn’t deny. He asked me a question:
“How can you love God, and hate anyone? How are you reconciling these events?”
I had no answer. I wanted to ignore the question for as long as I could, but it was only a matter of time. I tried with my justifications of service – that I have a heart for the poor and that I’m kind to strangers and that I keep the commandments (except for #1, obviously).
But at the end of it all, it didn’t work. None of those things mattered, because none of them meant I loved God, and I knew it. You can love God and do those things, but when you do those things it certainly doesn’t mean you love God. The reality was, I couldn’t hate someone and love God. I could only hate or love both. As simple as it is, it’s the Truth.
When I acknowledged it, I realized where I had been living. I realized that my defense of my hatred was that I was hating people that obviously didn’t love God. So therefore I was justified in my own eyes – the only problem is that that’s not how it works. Justifying my love of God by hating those that I think aren’t worthy of Him? Truly, my most self-righteous moment.
It was a scary thing, living my whole life “for Him”, only to end up here. I knew though, that I hadn’t “ended up” anywhere, I drove there. I lead myself, start to finish. And where I was, was a product of all of my own decisions.
I had only one option: repentance. I’ll tell you, I think that might have been the first true repentance of my life, not because I never cared before, but because I took actionable steps in changing my direction – the Holy Spirit compelled me.
I begged forgiveness before God. I prayed for His mercy and strength and then I did what I needed to do. I stopped looking for the anger. I stopped looking for things to fuel it. I cut off the source of my rage, completely – and just like that, it was gone. I genuinely thought it would be more difficult to get rid of, but it wasn’t - which is even more of a testament to how I am the one that kept fueling it in the first place.
I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit and His work.
p.s. The above was pretty dramatic for me. You might be saying “I don’t hate anyone” you should know, hate never starts as hate, it ends up there.
For discussion: Any similar experiences or lessons that you want to share?