Untangling Fear and Anger When Abused

I’ve had experience with the “or else” fear mentality of anger. Coming from abuse, it was difficult to feel anger and love coexisting simultaneously. Years later, as an adult, it’s still been a challenge to untangle the two.

And, in my eating disorder recovery, I’ve frequently encountered individuals who have also been plagued with the struggle of anger versus love. Most of the time, in talking with young girls and women, if there’s ever been a disagreement, they often view it as me “hating” them, all of a sudden. Not true.

Even if/when I’m angry about something, it’s not hatred. But, because of the importance subscribed to approval, unless there is an overjoyed, enthusiastic “yes response,” rejection, hatred and all manner of negative conclusions are viewed to be the only result.

We have gotten the anger thing quite twisted. Scripture tells us anger will come. How we respond to it is the greater.

Be ye angry, and sin not Ephesians 4:26

Easier said than practiced, I know. But I think a key to it is recognizing anger does not equal hatred/loss of love. We can be angry and love fiercely at the same time.
Someone once said the opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. Good point.

After all, how many love relationships gone sour have had individuals who are unaffected by them? There’s usually some revenge fantasies, some desire to hurt the other party. We, as our base natures, want to hurt the one who hurt us. Not exactly lovely and noble, but human? Oh yeah! There’s tons of humanity oozing there!

If we’ve come from a background of abuse and perfectionism, it’s especially difficult to remain neutral. We are affected all over the place! We become sensitive to any perceived slight or rejection, all because we determine love must be constantly approving of us, be perfect and never hurt, especially if we’ve been abused. There is a premium on the “love as action” element. And, it’s further complicated if we cannot separate OUR “who” from our “do.” We want approval for every action, forsaking the reality that love approves of us as human beings, but not necessarily of every human action.

God loves us unconditionally. There’s nothing we can do to get Him to “un-love” us.

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…” Isaiah 43:4

“I have chosen you and have not cast you away.” Isaiah 41:9

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3

Yep, there’s a lot of love going on. There’s nothing we can do to make Him love us less- or more. He loves, beyond our finite understanding of the word and the experience.

But does that mean that God is absolutely thrilled with everything we do? Of course not. In some instances, God may even be peeved with us. But He never hates us. He just isn’t always happy with our choices.

Some of us, however, may have encountered abusive experiences in which love was conditional, carrying perfect expectations and wrathful violence if a standard was not achieved and maintained. The “or else” sense of dread can paralyze and confuse us; we never know where we stand.

And, if that’s how it is with human relationships, how much more powerful is this dynamic with a perfect ultimately powerful God?

But there’s no “or else” to God’s love for us, regardless of how He feels about our choices. He loves – constantly…

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

In fact, He got there first…

We love him, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

And, because of that “first love,” He gave us Jesus, even while we were imperfect, sinning, careless and, perhaps even, unloving?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Let’s face it. If God had to wait until we got our perfectly loving act together, He’d STILL be waiting for it to happen! Again, I repeat this scripture…

We love him, because he first loved us.1 John 4:19

He loved us while being pleased, frustrated, hurt by, concerned for, aware of, merciful and gracious with us. And yes, during that whole love fest process, God has been angry. An angry God is scary. We’re taught about “the fear of the Lord” in scripture (Psalms 19:9; Psalms 34:11; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 10:27; Proverbs 14:26; Proverbs 14:27; Proverbs 19:23). But that has to do with respecting Him, not being afraid of Him.

Nevertheless, we need to remember God’s attitude to His anger…

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Psalm 30:5

We’d benefit tremendously to adopt this perspective in our own lives, in relating to God and others. Scripture tells us to “let it go,” in fact…

Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Ephesians 4:26

If our relationships don’t reflect that, they need to be examined and corrected; they may be abusive and toxic. If our view of God or even ourselves runs counter to

Ephesians 4:26, it’s self-destructive; it’s not God’s chosen best for us.

Isn’t it time to free ourselves from the stifling conditions we place upon love? God loves, anger or no anger. He never takes that love away.

Whatever your experience has been with love and anger, please rest in God’s love being more powerful, more eternal than any temporary and/or inaccurate situation you’ve encountered.

God loves you.

Here. Now. Forever.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39