Being a Peacemaker isn’t enough
I was sitting across from my therapist a few months ago talking about anger. The session had started with me relaying a story from earlier in the week where I had gotten mad at someone. I had gotten so mad that I could feel it physically manifesting inside my body. My chest was tight, my hands were shaky, and despite my efforts at holding my tongue, I said some things that weren’t nice, and then I felt really really bad about it.
This confrontation had happened between myself and another person, and the part I was most upset about was that I was mean. I wasn’t upset that the other person was in the wrong or that they were unkind and said things that were untrue. I was most upset that I said things that were mean and that I had allowed myself to get upset. The responsibility was taken 100% off of the other person and placed (by myself) totally and completely on me. It was now something that I was paying a hundred dollars an hour to work through.
I told her that I didn’t want to be mad anymore and that I feel like when I get mad I am not a good Christian. She listened, pondered, and then asked me a question, “do you think it was wrong for Jesus to overturn the money-changers tables in the temple?”
I knew the story she was referring to, I had studied it in church before. Jesus saw injustice within the walls of the temple. He sat and watched it happen, he braided his whip and then he went and got mad. Some may have even said that what he did was mean.
The question my therapist asked me was, did I think it was wrong for Jesus to be mad and did I think he was wrong to take action on his anger. Before I could answer, she reminded me that he was the most righteous person that has lived.
I answered that of course, I didn’t think it was wrong that Jesus got mad. He saw something that wasn’t right and he let others know that it wasn’t right. He was calculated in his actions, even sitting and braiding his whip before he used it. He didn’t lose his temper, he acted with intent.
But, even knowing this, I still for some reason think it’s wrong when I get mad, and it’s definitely not right when I let that anger cause action in me.
As a Christian woman, I have spent my life trying to be meek and humble and full of the Spirit. I have taught myself and my children that contention is of the Devil and try as much as I can to avoid confrontation and be a peacemaker. But as I’ve grown older (and gone to therapy) I’ve started to think my anger is not something I should try to remove from my heart, but that I should use as fuel to remove injustice when I see it. Just like Jesus did.
I’ve been pondering this concept all week. About anger and action. About striking a balance between being an angry person, and feeling angry when I need to.
Today, the entire world is angry. We all witnessed the inhuman, unjust, and unlawful killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. It invoked lots of different emotions in lots of different people around the world. Some got angry, and some, (mostly white Christian women like myself) answered with “Let’s love more, let’s teach our children to love all of God’s children.” And, while this isn’t a bad thing to think or to teach. It’s not enough. Yes, we need to love as Jesus did. Yes, we need to teach love, but… we also need to get mad.
We preach love, acceptance, and equality. But then we sit idly by as black men, the sons of women just like us, are hunted and killed and shown no mercy. We sympathize, but we do nothing to change the future.
We must come together and call each other to action against the injustice that Jesus Christ himself fought against his entire life. It is no longer good enough for us to be peacemakers. We can’t only teach our children to love one another and to be like the good samaritan they read about in their scriptures, we have to go out and BE the good samaritan. We have to be active allies with those who need our privilege and our platforms.
It is time to move beyond teaching our children about love inside our homes. Now is the time to take them outside of our home and show them what it means to love.
The Bible teaches us to mourn with those that mourn. I don’t think this means to sit inside our homes and cry for those who have died. I think it means to go and mourn with them where they are. Go fight their fight alongside them. Hear their stories, learn what they need, and show them what love is by acting with them.
Christian women: it is okay to be mad. It is okay to lean into that burning in your chest and that shakiness in your hands. Take that anger and turn it into action. If the most righteous person that ever lived can be angry, then so can you. More than that, so SHOULD you.
Braid your whip. Educate yourself, align yourself with the right people and organizations. Welcome the anger, ask it to fill you. Then, go and overturn some tables. Just like Jesus did.