Tag Archives: Anger

Growing into her skin


When we go through our school of missions in our sending agency, we have an amazing program for the kids as well.  The idea is to prepare the kids for some of the challenges that they might encounter on the mission field.  The leadership builds community and unity and identity in the kids by encouraging them to embrace “the MK way” by constantly referring to them as Missionary Kids (MKs).  Most kids bloom under this kind of encouragement and thrive in their identity as an MK.

But not everyone.  Sometimes kids get “dragged along” to the mission field- or so they perceive it that way.  Some kids come out of the MK training and feel displaced and angry.  Change is hard.  These kids are part of a family that is going to leave everything familiar to them, all creature comforts that they love, and travel to a new world to tell people about Jesus.  Some kids feel like, “If Jesus called my parents, then he forgot to talk to me about this decision!”  Some kids end up hating Jesus and his stupid Calling.  This is hard.

Six months ago I met an angry MK.  She was not comfortable in her own adolescent skin and not comfortable in her new school and not comfortable with being called an MK.  She had experienced the double whammy of being a teenager AND having too much change in her life all at once.  She was not happy.  She bristled when anyone tried to show her love.  We loved her anyways.

Six months later, our young friend has changed quite a bit.  I almost don’t recognize her!  Her hair is now her natural color and no longer hanging over her face.  She’s incorporating color into her wardrobe… under her black hoodie.  But most importantly for me- she smiles.  This girl has made close friends both at the missionary kid school and among the missionary families living in Costa Rica.  She is now at place where she is comfortable in her own MK skin.

Recently at a gathering of missionary families, our once angry and resentful kid-of-missionary-parents finally showed that she had embraced her identity as a Missionary Kid.  She showed a video that she had made of her and her friends laughing and doing silly teenage things.  She set it to bouncy, happy music and added cute titles.  And the very last screen was the sentence, “This is the MK way.”  I got tears in my eyes as we all wildly applauded her creative expression of who she finally decided to be.  She had finally grown into her skin and she is happy again.

Death by Bureaucracy


This week my salvation was tested in a fiery trial of red tape.  I almost gave into the temptation to assault someone behind a counter in the office of Immigration.  We have been working for the last 3 years on getting our “Permanent” Residency Visas… which will only last for 2 years before they must be renewed.  That right there should be a clue to the kind of thinking that we encounter in government offices of Third World Countries.  Apparently “Permanent” does not mean what you think it means.  I now know that “Permanent” means permanently standing in line to have papers stamped.

Two months ago we spent another day standing in various hot, long lines; and we thought we saw the end of the tunnel.  We received a piece of paper with a date and time on it.  This was the appointment for us to return as a family to sign our “cedulas” which would mean that we would no longer have to leave the country every 90 days to renew our tourist visas.  We were ready to sign and celebrate the end of a long and expensive process to stay legal.  But the paper pushing gods were against us.

chairsOn the designated day, we arrived at Immigration with our 3 children in tow.  I know from experience that an appointment does not exempt you from standing in line for a few hours.  So we came prepared with snacks and Game Boys and iPods and Kindles- ready to endure.  When our blood sugar levels started to drop around noon and we still had not been called back into the cubical area, I knew things were not going well.

Finally they called all of us up to three separate cubicles and started drilling us with questions.  My husband asked if they could process all our papers together so we could be with our children and help them.  The answer was NO so we kept hovering between spaces, talking over half walls, and passing papers between us.  At one point the woman helping my husband actually LOST a paper that he had just handed her.  Ten minutes later and many insistent demands that SHE find the lost paper, it was discovered in a pile on someone else’s desk.  My own breaking point was rapidly approaching.

The woman working with my stack of papers pointed to our date and time for this appointment and asked, “So, have you started paying into the social security system since you were given this appointment date?”  I said, no, why would we pay social security if we didn’t have a visa yet?  She then briskly informed me that I had missed some imaginary deadline to start paying taxes and now all my paper work was invalid.  I was shocked.  I felt my brain start to seize up as I tried to process the words in Spanish.

I asked, “Where does it say that?  Show me where it says that I have to start paying taxes before a certain date or my visa application will be denied.”

She barked at me, “You just DO IT.”

“Yes, but how was I supposed to KNOW that?”


This illogical exchange occurred over and over for the next 15 minutes at ever increasing decibels until the tears eeked from the corners of my eyes.  I wanted to beat that woman upside the head until her marbles settled into the logical grooves.  How could someone be expected to navigate a bureaucratic rabbit warren using nothing but mystical forms of divination and mind reading?  It was as useless to reason with her as it would have been to reason with a brick wall.  I deeply desired to curse her with a plague of paper cuts and then squeeze lemon juice on her.

impatiently-waiting_lFive hours later we had managed to convince them to at least take our children’s pictures and put them into their files for a future date so that we wouldn’t have to take them out of school for another day, but we were no closer to getting our coveted residency visas than we had been 2 months earlier.  The next day, my husband went down to the social security office to set up an account.  They were just as confused as we were.  He only succeeded in obtaining another appointment next week to stand in line again.  And so the saga continues… unless I get deported from the country for strangling someone as I wait in line.

This is not an uncommon story among missionaries.  We are all a bit surprised, and a little gratified, when we hear how similar each of our stories are all around the world.  There is no use fighting the system.  We just pray for the endurance to press on and conquer yet another trial.  We have huge mountains of paper blocking the way to our calling.  Fortunately I know a God who specialized in moving mountains.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/funky64/2603653222/”>Funky64 (www.lucarossato.com)</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonlparks/5139930960/”>Jason L. Parks</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Angry at God


Excerpt from the book Sifted: God’s Scandalous Response to Satan’s Outrageous Demand by Rick Lawrence.

A month ago our crazy-making gray cat, Penny, survived, barely, the worst experience of her life.  Among her many other peculiarities (including, but not limited to: scream-meowing in our basement every day for no apparent reason, defecating on the concrete five inches from her litter box for no apparent reason, and sneaking outside to hide out of reach under our deck for no apparent reason) she’s absolutely terrible at cleaning herself after she “does her business,” as my wife’s family likes to describe you-know-what.  In short, there’s what we’ll call “crusty matter” hanging off her haunches on most days.

Finally Bev couldn’t take it anymore and decided (with no regard for what others were doing at that particular random moment, I have to say) to grab that cat Penny and clean off her hinterlands in the bathtub.  At first my older daughter, Lucy, was recruited for this suicide mission, but she quickly realized she’d have to maintain a perpetual death grip on a fifteen-pound cat as she was plunged into water for the first time in her life, and Lucy was having none of that.  So, against my will and despite firm protests that I was NOT going to get involved in this covert operation, I stepped in to manhandle Penny into the bathtub.

cat bathWhile Bev was at one end furiously scrubbing the “particulates” off of Penny’s hindquarters with warm water and liquid soap, I was at the other end, desperately trying to hold on to the scruffy neck of an animal who was sure she was about to die.  Her eyes bored into me with disbelief and panic and she frantically tried to claw her way out of the jaws of death.  But I tightened my grip and gritted my teeth and held on- no small feat, because I’m positive her girth would remind you of Jabba the Hutt.  Thirty seconds into this operation she had the kind of look on her face that you’d have if someone was shoving you feet-first into a wood chipper.  She thrashed and growled and dug her claws into my arm while Bev continued to soap up Penny’s nether regions with the sort of trademark thoroughness that, in this case, we honestly couldn’t afford.

And finally when it was all over, we pulled that pathetic, fur-soaked Penny out of the tub and wrapped her in a warm towel and stroked her head and told her that we loved her.  I’m no cat whisperer, but I’m pretty sure she was thinking what you and I would be thinking if we were a pampered, half-crazed house cat that has just emerged from her first “acid” bath:  “What was THAT?”

Now weeks later, and Penny still slinks from me whenever it looks as though I might actually make a slight movement in her general direction.  Her trust in me has been violated by a shattering event her mind can make no sense of- the comfort and safety she assumed around me has now been cross-examined and thrown out of court.  Before her bathing, I was merely just another piece of useful furniture to her.  But now I am dangerous and untrustworthy to her.  I can see she’s having trouble, intense trouble, squaring the food-supplying, head-scratching, lap-offering me with the incarcerating, torturing, and suddenly random me.  If I was like a god to Penny… then the bath incident has apparently turned her into an agnostic.  A few more episodes like this one, and she’ll go the distance to atheism.

So how do we typically make sense of the inexplicable near-death episodes in our own lives?  What do we do when God seems to be dipping us in acid or shoving us into the wood chipper, with His supposedly merciful face inches from our own and His eyes locked on ours, and all of our desperate protestations and life-or-death caterwauling gets us nowhere with Him?  In fact, many of us would say that His grip on the scruff of our necks gets even tighter the louder we protest… Even when the trauma is behind us and we’re safe and enveloped in our metaphorical warm towel, we can’t forget or forgive the horrific offense of what He has done to us…

I recently heard that another one of my friends from long ago is no longer serving the Lord.  She’s angry about a lot of things.  She’s angry at God, too, I think.  This makes me really sad to think about.  I recently read a devotional with the theme of admonishing people to stop being angry with God.  I was a bit shocked that the author thought that this problem was wide-spread enough to include in an international email.  But the more I think about it, the more I believe he is right.  There are a lot of people out there who are mad at God, for one reason or another.

I think I need to make one thing clear, I don’t think that people who are mad at God are going to Heaven.  Think about it.  If you are mad at God, why would you WANT to be with Him for all eternity?  You certainly won’t feel like worshiping Him forever and ever.  Now, can a person recover from their anger against God?  Yes, but it is in part an exercise of their free will.  It does not happen naturally.  Left to their natural tendencies, an angry person will eventually become a God-hater.  That’s a Hellish rut that requires the tow-truck of the Holy Spirit to pull you out of.  But if, with your free will, you’ve denied the Spirit access to your heart’s hitch, how will He ever be able to pull you to safety?

Like Penny the cat who suffered through a bath, we don’t always understand what God is doing.  He seems random and frightening and torturous and malicious.  But He’s not.  He’s probably just washing the poop off your butt.  With Penny’s little cat-brain she couldn’t comprehend what was happening to her.  With your little human brain, you can’t possibly understand the Divine Being whose ways are “higher” than our ways.  How could we possibly understand what God is doing?

So just like it’s ridiculous for Penny to be angry with her humans over the bath incident, it is ridiculous for you, Created Being, to be angry with your Creator.  Let go of your anger against God before it’s too late.

Photo credits:  the photo was taken from this page http://sgforums.com/forums/1796/topics/191114