I talked in my last post about the anger that we often feel being women, especially in a more conservative evangelical subculture that often has very narrow views of what a Christian woman can look like.
It’s a complicated time for us. Growing up, we received a framework for what womanhood looked like, but then we really thought through some of those messages and realized that our framework was flawed. We were angry, and so we burned it all down. Then with that framework gone, we started over from scratch, but when we did, we realized that maybe parts of that original framework were good. So a lot of us are starting all over again, figuring it all out again, and it’s all enough to make us a little angry.
Today, I want to talk about how to deal with and move past that anger, but I’m really not the most qualified person to speak on that topic. I suck at dealing with anger, but I realized that I had to when I saw what my anger was doing.
Now, again, feeling anger is inevitable, and recognizing what we’re angry about can help us effect change. But I was dwelling in anger, and dwelling in my anger was hurting me, hindering me from seeking good, and making me irritated, indifferent, and angsty in my closest relationships.
I am changing, but I’m not still not equipped to talk about moving past anger. The best I can do is talk about what I’m learning as I deal with it.
First of all, I’m learning to pray a lot more. I’m taking a lot more deep breaths, giving my anger to Jesus, begging Him for grace and peace, and realizing that I need Him. This isn’t a throwaway lesson. Prayer helps tune our hearts to the heart of God, and the heart of God is full of love and forgiveness. The heart of God reminds us that we are His children, and that makes a lot of the things that we are angry about a lot smaller.
I’m learning that forgiveness simply means letting go. I’m trying to let go of the people who have made me feel less than or like I am a mistake. To let go of my anger, of what they think of me, of the fantasies in my head where I run into them and tell them off and show them just how wrong they were. If I can’t forgive the system, then forgiving the people who are products of the system is the next best thing.
I’m also learning to forgive because people make mistakes. People do and say stupid things, but sometimes they mature and change their minds. I think of all the wrong and hurtful things I’ve said to other women when I thought and believed differently than I do now. I look back and feel so much regret and shame for those things. I can’t help but think that some of the people who spoke harmful things into my life regret those things now, or maybe will one day.
I’m learning to encourage the next generation of women. I’m encouraging them to see how God has created them and gifted them and to lean into it. I encourage them to learn and grow and develop the areas where they are gifted. I encourage them to affirm each other. I encourage them to forgive and to let go when other people make them feel less than.
I’m learning to stick up for other women more. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, judging them less, and making fewer assumptions about them (or at least really, really trying to). When something unfair is said about another woman, I find myself defending her and pointing out the injustice, just like I would want other people to do for me.
I’m learning that talking to other women about this stuff helps. It makes us feel less alone, and we are less angry and more empowered when we feel less alone.
For what it’s worth, I’m learning that running helps. Like, literally running. There’s something about getting your aggression out through exercise and proving to yourself that your body is capable of more than you thought.
I’m still learning; I’d love to hear what you do to deal with the anger. When I find an easier answer, I’ll share it. For now, I’m using what I’ve learned to grow and change and seek good for others.