Adoption, Mid-life Crisis, Reflectionary

“Angry Enough to Die”

Images_1But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?’ And he said, ‘Yes, angry enough to die.’ (Jonah 4:9, NRSV)

I seem to have no end of connections to this week’s lectionary passages. Friday night I was just as ludicrously, futilely angry as Jonah, and I certainly felt angry enough to die. It’s an unjust world, and in those minutes I was the target of the greatest injustice.

At least that’s how it felt.

It started with a brief interaction with an apparently cranky-at-the-end-of-the-day person to whom I used to be married. He reacted to, rather than answering, a question about the weekend schedule for our two-household family, and in that reaction he struck an old nerve. When we could speak away from the children, I asked what that was all about. He nearly apologized, but stopped short and instead turned it around in my direction. “I don’t call you on it when you’re inappropriate.”

That word—inappropriate—goes to my deepest wounded places.

Remember the other day, I was writing about my mothers and how I wanted to finally get over this old misery that keeps bothering me no matter how much time goes by? Just to be sure, “the voice of the Lord came to (Songbird) a second time.” (See Jonah 3:1) And soon I was slamming doors and scrubbing the bathtub in manic fashion and finally sitting down at the top of the stairs for what became an unpleasant cry while lying on the little rug at the top of the stairs with my legs hanging over and tears running down into my ears.

The worst kinds of thoughts were running through my mind, as they do when this particular sore spot is aggravated. Obviously no one will ever think well of me, including my children, who would be better off without me…

“Yes, angry enough to die.”

I have a kind husband and an understanding almost grown-up son who witnessed the first part of the difficulties, and the three of us went out to dinner and talked about why I respond the way I do.

“That’s old stuff,” my wise son said, surprised that it stays with me.

It’s that word inappropriate, I explained. I was inappropriate from the very beginning of my life, before the beginning of my life, the result of an inappropriate set of actions.

“Nothing that resulted in you could be inappropriate,” he said.

I started to feel a little better. After all, I do have these rather nice children, don’t I? And a life partner who actually works at understanding me. We have what I dreamed of, we really do. The only thing that threatens it seems to be my inability to let go of the past, my stubborn inability to release my personal people of Nineveh and let God decide what to do with them. I am too willing to lie in the heat of the day, angry enough to die.

Jonah, Jonah, Jonah.

I don’t want to be like you, Jonah.

I felt some of the after-tremors again today as I sat in the office waiting to hear about the congregation’s vote on the budget. Could I respond to bad news in a way that didn’t involve self-destructive anger?

As it turned out, the events of the day did not put me to the test. The budget passed, which is to say I’m getting a raise, and I sat down to a quite nice potluck lunch. I even came home with an entire chocolate cake.

There is still work to do on the inner Bird. Next Sunday’s gospel lesson has Jesus casting out an unclean spirit. Maybe that will help.

20 thoughts on ““Angry Enough to Die””

  1. I agree with cheesehead (although it is very brave of here to use that particular symbol after all the discussion here a couple days ago). Some things seem to stay with us always, ready to be touched off at a moments notice.
    At the same time, sometimes I think the best thing to do is to be “inappropriate”.

  2. “inappropriate” strikes that same sort of nerve for me.
    I like the inner Bird as the shifting mass of emotions that she is, day in, day out.
    And congrats on the raise!

  3. You write beautifully. Could you set aside some of your devotionals for publication?
    My Jonah and Inner Casseroles need both a rest and a heave-ho. Lord Have Mercy!
    Glad you got the raise. They are durn fortunate to have you.
    You “inappropriate”? My ASS.

  4. Hurrah on the raise! (And the chocolate cake – one of the other benefits…).
    Many blessings (but I’m with Gord – I wont be making those little parentheses, circle, parenthses things for a while – heh!)
    -Jennifer

  5. Inappropriate is the dumbest-ass word. It’s a word that my old maid aunts used to use. Nothing God has made and crafted as lovingly as he has you, could be that word.
    Ya know, the good Lord underscored how much he loves you and is on your side with that chocolate cake! I hope it was sooo tasty!

  6. Your ex lost the right to be critical a long time ago. And, you, at least, had the nicety of chiding him for his actions in an effort to let him know that he was being unfair and harsh, rahter than to wound. His comment was purely a dig at you, simply because you had the utter gall to tell him he was behaving like a jackass! And, then he went and proved you right!
    I know it’s hard to accept criticism — I have trouble with it myself, but you have to take his opinion with a grain of salt. He’s obviously not right with the world if he let YOU slip through his grasp. Pure Luck has the right of it when he tells you that nothing that produced you could be deemed inappropriate. All your exisistance does is prove to me that there is a loving, just God who cares for us.

  7. Love you LOTS…as you are. Very dear Blogfriend, your presence and your words are utterly and completely appropriate at all sorts of levels.
    Large hugs.

  8. Sorry, Songbird, about the incident with the ex but happy to hear what a supportive LH and LS you have.
    Congratulations on your raise! We had a contentious session meeting last night what with El Jefe, the clerk of session, and our senior pastor getting into a couple of disputatious arguments in the course of the meeting. Ugh. Talk about feeling caught in the middle–well, not really the middle because El Jefe was right. But ugh anyway.

  9. I can only echo what everyone else has already said so beautifully and so well. The ex is an ass who was looking for an opportunity to strike out with hurtful words. Know that you are a wonderful person – and completely appropriate. 🙂

  10. I’m sorry his comment struck such a chord, Songbird. Ex just plain sucks.
    Your post is just beautiful, though, and it was such a pleasure to sit and talk at the coffee shop and get to know you. Hugs.

  11. What good friends you are. My hope is not to vilify anyone, but rather to make the point that deep wounds are difficult to heal, and for all that I would like to appear to be “together,” I have my moments, just as Jonah did, when I can’t see the goodness of God. I’m grateful for the writers and collectors of scripture for giving us stories that go straight to our human hearts and work on us so deeply.

  12. Sometimes I wonder if we all have those hot spots that when pressed we start up the old programming again…. and I wonder if we will ever be free of them.
    {{hug}}
    a day late…

  13. Dear woman, there is no unclean spirit in you. Your words are beautiful, as always, and your son is right — there is nothing inappropriate about any action that resulted in your entry into this world.

  14. Oh, what a beautiful post. Sad and hard to read in a way, but good. Life is full of unexpected triggers, isn’t it? Thank God for healing and growing, and your loving husband and your clearly wise son!

  15. Oh, what a beautiful post. Sad and hard to read in a way, but good. Life is full of unexpected triggers, isn’t it? Thank God for healing and growing, and your loving husband and your clearly wise son!

Leave a Reply