Angry But Okay

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So, here’s the thing. I’ve been angry. Really angry. When my pastor failed and disappeared nearly two months ago, it upset a part of my life that was seemingly solid for almost 20 years. My lowercase-C church is different now, and it will never, ever be the same.

I’m still not sure how to write about it. Nothing that flows from my fingers seems fair right now. It’s all too undone, still a little heated and unrelentingly honest. I’m still trying to figure out what it means to be angry and not sin. I don’t know how to be upset without becoming bitter. I don’t know the line between feeling and releasing what’s inside of me, and digging to expose nerves that should remain untouched.

Last night, I was writing a letter to God. I do that sometimes when I’m not sure what else to do. I told Him how I loved Him so much but was afraid of my anger. I told Him I was afraid my anger would turn to bitterness, and my bitterness would separate me from Him. And right as the words passed through my mind, He spoke to me.

“Nothing can separate you from My love, Shane. Nothing.”

And then I remembered He was already there with me, right in the middle of my anger. I realized my anger would turn to bitterness only if I chose to shut God out, because He would never shut me out.

It’s okay to be angry. Our God is big enough to handle it and to hold us in it. He isn’t afraid of our questions and He doesn’t shy away from our grief. He sits with us and weeps with us and comforts us.

It’s hard — it really, really is — but He is with me. Always, always, He is with me.

And I’m not going to be angry forever.

Life: A Melty, Yummy Mess

Sometimes my brain just locks up on me and it becomes more difficult than it’s worth to express things I’m coming to know in my soul but have yet to understand with my head. Or maybe some things are just impossible to understand with your head. I don’t know — and that’s kind of the point.

Speaking of points:

  • My life is kind of a mess right now. A good mess — sticky and sweet, like a melting cup of gelato (this actually happened to me and I thought, “Wow, this is my life!”) — but a mess nonetheless. I’m all over the place, don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, and alternate between silly dance parties and sobbing in church. It’s weird, but it’s just me right now.
  • I skipped blogging last Thursday. If you don’t know (and you probably don’t), Tuesday and Thursday are my I’m-going-to-blog, no-matter-what-it-takes, charge-my-way-into-the-zone days. In short, I blog whether I feel like it or not. For a while, I was even writing, photographing and designing in advance, and had a pretty little queue of entries ready to go. Alas, life got in the way and my brain failed me. Sometimes it’s freeing to say, “Whatever,” and just back away from the screen. And then watch Netflix.
  • Somewhere along my spiritual journey I decided if I ever woke up before my alarm, it must be God waking me up to pray because somebody is obviously on the verge of death. I don’t know how I got this idea but it really freaked me out for a while. (Imagine me bolting out of bed at 3am and praying because somebody, somewhere might be trying to murder my mom or something.) It’s not that I don’t think God can’t or won’t ever do that sort of thing, but I’ve woken up before my alarm just about every day for the past month. The first week was pretty exhausting, but now I’m pretty much okay with just having some extra time with God before I finally get out of bed to pee.

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Resigned to Growth

I resigned from my job yesterday. Officially, in an I’m-leaving-by-July kind of way.

It wasn’t a secret. In my interview, I told my future employer I was called to San Francisco and could leave as quickly as three weeks from that very day. He said I could leave in three days, if God told me to. I got the job.

Three days turned into three weeks, and three weeks turned into a year. One crazy year filled with, “Am I supposed to be here?” and “What are you teaching me, God?” and “Oh, that. Can I learn something else?”

It’s been a season of pruning, which sounds exciting until you realize pruning can mean sleeping on an air mattress way longer than anybody ever should, sharing a phone with your wife, and going without a car until you could save up enough money to replace the one you sold to pay for Discipleship Training School.

Pruning sounds invigorating until it means confronting what’s wrong in your world instead of running from it, leaning into your doubts instead of pretending they’re not there, and confessing all of your sins — even the dirty, embarrassing, do-I-really-have-to? ones — to another person and finally being fully known, knots and all.

Pruning sounds feel-good spiritual until it means shedding both infected branches and beautifully green leaves, both sagging boughs and delicate newborn tendrils, until you’re a scarred-up, sap-leaking, stump-covered trunk, painfully bare and wholly exposed.

Nothing left. Nothing to hide. Just me.

It sounds painful, and it has been, but there’s nourishment too. There’s sunlight, rainfall and calming breezes. There’s His Word, His peace and His presence. And there’s Life, rising from within, birthing stronger branches and sweeter fruit.

Do I know what’s next? Not exactly. I just know I’m growing and the Gardener is good.

The old is gone and new life is springing forth.

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