This series is about all the things pastors aren’t supposed to say. It is expressing the really deep, hidden sins of my life. These posts might make you uncomfortable if you believe that pastors are somehow superhuman. But if you are willing to accept that I am a sinful, broken human being whom God loves and uses despite me, then maybe you will be encouraged and edified by them.
Losing Myself in the Rage
Now I’m naked, nothing but an animal
But can you fake it, for just one more show?
And what do you want?
I want to change
And what have you got,
when you feel the same?
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
Then someone will say what is lost
can never be saved
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
“Bullet with Butterfly Wings”
– Smashing Pumpkins –
I remember when this album – Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness, in case you’re curious – was released. I was in Bible college, and I thought my life sucked. I was working at Kay B Toys in Dedham, Massachusetts, and for some reason, I was just angry about everything.
Although I see it now only in hindsight, I was angry at religion. I was an atheist trapped in a religious cycle with no hope, and so everything became an object of my wrath. In Homiletics class, I took it out in sermons. At work, I took it out on boxes and people. My closest companion at the time was a guy named John who might have been a closet nazi but was definitely strange. He and I, completely sober, had the kind of introspective conversations most people have to get high to have.
I loved being angry. It made me feel strong. It gave me an excuse to hate and oppose. Best of all, it let me ‘speak my mind’ and not care what people thought. In short, when I am angry, I am an ass (and that’s a Bible word) but I don’t care, which makes me even more of one.
I still get angry; and I am still an unbearable ass when I become angry. When things aren’t going my way, when I’m having a bad morning or when I can’t find my keys, I feel the rage in my heart. It’s not gone. It still lurks there at the edge of my being. And trust me, it is not pretty.
But something changed inside of me when, as an adult training for the ministry, I admitted my atheism and realized the root of my rage. My rage was not from hidden pain or a bad life. It was because I was trapped by my religion. Jesus freed me to my atheism…
…And then he let me know he was there.
You see, all my rage is at something that doesn’t matter. That anger in my heart is driven by a hatred for things that are insignificant. And when Jesus freed me of all those things, I could see him for who he was. And just as the things I get angry with don’t matter, my anger itself does not matter.
I am continually reminded of this when I lose my temper (which is very seldom now). Jesus literally rocked the foundations of my world and made what consumed me into something on the peripheral of my existence. He taught me peace.