Letting Go of Anger – Anger Turned to Resentment
I was living a depressed, self-focused life full of bitterness, resentment, and regret. I had no idea how letting go of my anger was even possible. I knew I needed help and started attending church with my brother. Sunday after Sunday I sat there with tears running down my face hearing messages of hope and forgiveness but refusing to take the next step. Finally on Christmas Eve 1998, I turned it all over and asked the Lord to save me from this difficult life without God. In an instant, I had become a woman redeemed and a child of the Most High God.
Unfortunately my life didn’t change overnight. From 1998 to 2000, a series of bad choices from Mark, my brother, and me in our dot-com company left us with a failing company. A company that had been worth $25 million dollars was worth nothing when dot-com bubble broke. And all my plans to escape this nightmare turned to ashes. It was at this time I began having panic attacks. Where was God when I needed Him? Even though I now called myself a Christian I didn’t see my life getting any better. What I didn’t realize is that God was working; I just couldn’t see it. I was a woman whose world was crashing down around her with no apparent way out.
My unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness were pushing me down into a place that was dark and empty where fear and depression ruled. Those feelings of loss that had become so familiar over the years overpowered me and I was paralyzed with anxiety (panic) and depression until finally I quit fighting and let go. I fell into a hopeless darkness where I believed the lies of the enemy -- that death was the only way out. I have heard it said that holding on to anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. That is exactly what was happening to me. Instead of letting go of anger, I held on tightly.
I was seeing a psychiatrist twice a month and a counselor twice a week. The psychiatrist had pronounced a diagnosis of chronically depressed with suicidal thoughts and extreme anxiety causing panic attacks. His treatment was to prescribe a series of medications which kept me pretty much out of touch with reality. I would attend church on Sundays but spent most services in tears and would never think of interacting with anyone.
The failure of the dot-com company left Mark and me more than $350,000 in debt and each day we were receiving numerous collection calls. I completely isolated myself from the world that continued to hurt and frighten me. And that world was becoming smaller and smaller.
Letting Go of Anger – Feeling More Dead than Alive
I couldn’t risk losing one more thing or having anyone ask anything of me. It all made me feel so tired. One more responsibility or devastating loss and I was sure I would become a raving lunatic and have to be hospitalized. Several times, my psychiatrist wanted Mark to commit me, but each time I pleaded with him not to and he relented. By now, Mark’s condition had become terminal and his doctors had told him he only had 3 to 4 painful years left. He was on heavy doses of morphine and could no longer eat solid food. Every night I would hook him up to his liquid diet fed through a feeding tube. Even in my “out of it” state, Mark needed me as his caretaker. Without me, he would have been put into a hospice facility. So, in our worlds of brokenness we were still each other’s “life rafts.”
I felt more dead than alive. More than once, I intentionally took too much of one of my medications, fully expecting never to wake up. . .but I always unsuccessful. God had a plan for me even then.
In 2001, the Lord miraculously healed Mark from his terminal illness. I had no idea that he had been reading the Bible cover to cover and crying out to Jesus. You would think that would change my life, but instead I got worse, climbing deeper and deeper into myself and farther and farther from the world around me. It was weeks or maybe months before I understood and trusted that Mark had been healed. Strangely, this made me feel even more abandoned. I was no longer needed in my hated role of caretaker. And Mark was giving up the legal and illegal drugs that I wanted to continue to medicate myself with. I didn’t want to see what was really going on. I didn’t realize until much later that God had to take everything from me including my mind in order to create in me a new heart for Him and a dependence like I had never known or trusted.
Letting Go of Anger – A Journey to Recovery
Finally in late 2001 with the Lord by my side, I began my journey of recovery. On this journey, I learned a great deal about accepting responsibility for my choices in life, the importance of forgiveness and that there is no shame in failure. I learned that I couldn’t carry everything for everyone. I couldn’t fix every hurt and I couldn’t be responsible for everyone’s happiness and well-being. This was the beginning of breaking free of the prison of depression, anxiety, and co-dependency. It was John 8:32 that spoke to my heart, “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
Eventually, I was ready to start giving up my prescription and illegal drugs and after a few weeks I was totally off the “head meds” as I called them and was feeling clear-headed for the first time in years. I knew God had healed me of this “chronic depression and anxiety” as I began to read His Word and forgive those people I felt had wronged me.
I had to forgive Mark for his selfishness and abuse; my brother for using me, and my parents for their lack of interest. I had to quit playing the “blame game” and admit that much of my anger, resentment, and bitterness grew out of my inability to say “no” to those I love. It was my lack of boundaries and bad choices that had every thing to do with my situation.
As I came out of my world of denial, I realized I had to ask others to forgive me and my many offenses against them.
One of the most difficult acts of forgiveness was forgiving myself for what I perceived were all my failures and weaknesses including the bankruptcy that Mark and I were forced to file. Through this process, I finally understood that when I am weak, God is strong and that He loves me no matter what.
With each step of forgiveness, I climbed a little further out of that pit I had been living in and into a new life with my Lord as its focus. I discovered a new way of thinking, a Christ-like way, not a worldly way. I was in the world, but no longer of the world.
Letting Go of Anger – Healing Comes for God
God pursued me relentlessly and finally at my most broken, I reached out to Him. He pulled me into His loving arms and when I gave it all to Him, He set me free and restored my soul. Jeremiah 31:3-4 says, “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you. Again, I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt. . .And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.’”
The world teaches us, “We can do anything if we just try” and “To take pride in our strength and independence.” But the Lord teaches us in John 15:5, “Without Me (Jesus) you can do nothing.” In Proverbs 13:10 we learn, “By pride comes nothing but strife” and in Jeremiah 17:5, “Cursed is the man who trusts in his own strength but blessed is the man whose trust and hope is in the Lord.”
Until I was ready to give it all to our Lord Jesus, I could not find rest for my soul. The Lord has taught me many things but I believe the greatest of these is surrender. By letting go of anger, and surrendering my unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness there is room for grace, love, and joy. By surrendering my will to follow His, I found a new life full of acceptance, forgiveness, and peace.
Mark and I are still growing together in our marriage and it is stronger than ever. I believe because it is built on the foundation of Christ and bound by a love that has been strengthened in adversity, humbled by failure, and renewed by forgiveness. My brother and I are in contact on a regular basis, all of the hurts of our relationship having been healed by facing the truth and forgiving. And finally, when I learned how to honor my parents no matter what, I started to forgive, accept, and love them unconditionally knowing that it was not my job to change them.
Who am I now? I’m a woman of Christ and my new world is filled with grace, love, and joy. I no longer try to fix everything for everyone nor do I try to fix everyone. I realize that is God’s job and He can do it quite well without my help.
Who are you and what is the world you live in? I encourage you to find that world of grace, love, joy, and peace that is waiting for you by surrendering all unforgiveness, regrets, guilt, resentment, and bitterness to the Lord.