“In our outer and inner conflicts, we can see the powers of self combatting the powers of God. We look at those things – the powers of God we have within us – and recognize that they are powerful tools.” Joe McQ, The Steps We Took
Love vs. hate. Patience vs. a quick temper. Mercy vs. judgment. Grace vs. condemnation. Peace vs. anger. The powers of God used to seem weak to me; they were always overcome by my powers of self. I wasn’t patient, merciful, graceful, or peaceful; I didn’t have the time or energy. It seemed easier and more expedient to have a quick, angry tempter, to judge, and to condemn. And for a while it seemed to work for me. What I couldn’t see while I was in my addiction is that what ‘worked’ for me was costing me dearly. I lost friends because of my temper. I missed many opportunities because I was impatient. I hurt my wife’s feelings many times because I wasn’t merciful or graceful…All because my ‘self’ had to have supremacy. I did not understand, and I underestimated, the powers of God.
Now I know when my anger is stirred up, I do not have to give in to it. My anger used to seem like a tidal wave, rushing in upon the shore and destroying everything in its path. Now my anger beats against the rock of God’s patience working within me. It’s not that I don’t get angry; I get angry all the time, almost as frequently as I did before I entered recovery. But now, instead of becoming overwhelmed by my anger as it washes over me, I let my anger batter itself upon God’s patience, His rock. I sit there in that middle-ground, in the place where patience meets anger, where sea meets shore. I sit there with my anger and God’s patience and let the anger go. I cannot control my anger; that’s the key. When I tried to control my anger in my addiction it would simply change to passive-aggressive anger, or stay hidden but slowly build until an inevitable explosion. So no, I don’t try to control my anger. I let it rage, but now instead a tidal wave overtaking a sandy shore my anger runs into God’s patience. Eventually my anger loses its energy, like waves dissipating after a passing storm, until my anger is gone and only God’s patience remains. At first it was very uncomfortable to allow this battle to take place within me; I didn’t think God’s patience would be enough, because my anger seemed so powerful.
But God’s patience has outlasted thousands of years of human folly, and it is enough to deal with my anger and childish outbursts.