Last week I shared Part I about a woman (I’ll call her Rita) who was struggling with anger towards God, due to the two recent hurricanes. I will share part II of my answer in this column.
Aside from being distraught about the whole hurricane situation, Rita also seemed ashamed of herself for feeling angry toward God, as though she shouldn’t feel that way.
It seemed to me she was trying to shove down her feelings of anger as though they were wrong. I told her it wasn’t wrong for her to feel anything. Feelings in themselves aren’t wrong. It is what we do with them that is either right or wrong. So often we are taught in life that it is wrong to have negative feelings toward God or others. This is not so. As frail human creatures it is inevitable that we will feel negatively about God or others at times in our lives.
I had concern for Rita, that she was not allowing herself the freedom to acknowledge what she was feeling and why.
The healthy thing for her to do in this situation would be to open her heart to God right where she was with all that she was feeling. For instance, saying to Him, “Lord, I am finding myself very angry with you right now. I don’t like what I’m feeling, but I know there’s a reason for it. I’m angry because….”
God is not a strict prudish God who calls us to repress our feelings and desires, no matter how wrong or disordered they may seem. Rather, He calls us to be very real, open and honest with Him about who we are and what we’re feeling. It is from there that He can reveal to us His mind, His heart and His truth in it all; and, from there that a love relationship with Him can flourish.
I shared last week about our hearts being like houses with many rooms. The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Heart is/was Immaculate. Every room, nook and cranny was totally open to God throughout her whole earthly life. This is why no matter what situation she faced, as hard as it may have been, she brought God into it. She shared her fears, her anxieties and concerns with Him, and thus, she had the grace that she needed because He was “in the room” with her in the present moment.
All of us, on the other hand, have rooms in our hearts and lives that are not yet open to God’s redeeming graces. Gradually throughout life, our Lord is knocking on rooms and areas in our hearts that we have not yet invited Him into. God was clearly knocking at a room in Rita’s heart. The external circumstance of the hurricanes stirred something deep within her. Her choice then was either to see the situation as a stepping stone to invite God into that room where she was struggling and feeling angry; or a stumbling block, keeping her closed off to God’s grace and drawing her into deeper bitterness, anger and thus depression. Just as Jacob wrestled with God, Rita was being called to wrestle with God.
We must always remember, we are in a sense like a tube of toothpaste. What comes out of us, comes from within. Pope John Paul II has addressed all that I am sharing here, in a profound way through his teachings on Theology of the Body. In his teaching, he confronts the Manichean heresy and puritanical spirit that some Christians can tend to fall into where we feel we need to deny our humanity: “spirit – good, body – bad. JP II is calling us to a human/spiritual integration where the deepest recesses of our humanity are transformed and redeemed by the Divinity of Christ; and thus we begin to experience Christ in a deeply personal and profound way.
May we all have the grace to imitate St. Francis who said, “I am who I am before God, nothing more and nothing less.” And, in that reality of our brokenness and misery, may we come to experience more deeply God’s unconditional love and acceptance of us.