”Always write angry letters to your enemies. Never mail them.” – James Fallows
How many times have we done this? I know I have. More than once. My own dear husband admits to writing one of these to me a couple of years ago – and never let me read it – and he’s glad – so am I.
Letters written with anger are never restorative. Instead they can do real damage – as the written word is forever. It is always imprinted on the memory and heart and is a tough thing to move past.
I don’t believe it is a sin to be angry. Jesus was angry – many times. He never sinned in anger and asks that we do the same. There are going to be things that make us angry – it’s just a fact of life. There are things we can’t understand – things we can’t resolve and the list goes on and on.
I wrote one of these ‘angry’ letters to a friend I had a falling out with – but I’m so glad I never mailed it – or passed it through an email. The letter was for me alone – part of my healing to just ‘get it out’ on paper and reevaluate what went wrong – and validate me as a person. Sometimes this is a necessary thing to do. Once the anger and emotion is passed – often times there is something left in its place. Perspective and sadness. Sadness for the circumstances – and perspective that time passing brings – taking the punch out of the anger. Sadness that so much time is lost in the mean time.
I must admit that I don’t get angry very often. I’m pretty even-tempered – yet I’m passionate about certain things – but usually not angry. I love people in my life – deeply. Love my family and friends with a solid love. I think what really sets me off are ‘half truths’ told about me – or people totally misunderstanding me and passing me off as something that is not even true. And being helpless to change this opinion. Another thing that really sets me off is being helpless to change past circumstances that got blown WAY out of proportion. I am naive enough to believe that adults should be able to get past themselves – truly and totally forgive – to save the relationship – learn from mistakes of the past and be restored in every sense of the word. My dear husband smiles at me and pats me on the head – like I’m a small child full of innocence and wonder. And says, ‘Oh Cindy – that is just not the real world’
And so writing letters are for me alone. God is the only one who sees them. And He is doing a deep work of art – in my heart. Helping me work out the disappointment, hurt and anger – and stop it before I spew it on others close to me. I’ve kept a journal for years – and recently I told ‘my story’ as I remember it. We all have our ‘story’ don’t we? Mistakes we have made? Someone that has hurt you? Something you can’t fix on your own? Yes – we all do.
Can I be angry and not sin? That is the challenge for me. Can I still be passionate about wanting change – and not push before people are ready for change? Can I keep who I am intact – and not lose myself to emotion? Can I do and feel what is right – and not compromise what I feel God would want me to do? Follow His leading and direction – rather than what others tell me? Know myself so well – that it is not a dilemma for me to restore others in love? These are the questions I struggle with – daily. And sometimes what I feel God is leading me to do – is not the popular consensus.
My encouragement for you is this: Write that angry emotional letter – get it all out! All of it. The feelings and emotions – the being misunderstood – the slander against you – the feelings of betrayal and being wronged. Imagine taking a walk with that person who has wronged you. Find a nice place to stop along the road – a nice grassy patch that’s very quiet and peaceful. Take out the letter and read it out-loud to that person. Ask them not to interrupt you until you’re done reading it. This letter will say it all – and you won’t have to depend on your memory – and get lost in emotion – you can just read it. Imagine that they hear you. Really hear you. Imagine that they understand – and that they feel sorry for causing you pain – and they accept your apology too. Imagine the conversation of healing and restoration – even if you have to MAKE IT UP. Remember – it is for you. It is part of your heart healing – and letting go of the anger.
I have done this – not once – but many times. It is always a restorative conversation. The anger is no longer there. I am still writing – and there are days when I have to take that walk with someone again and read a letter – forgive and be forgiven – and have a healing conversation. There are days when I have to forgive myself all over again. I wish I could say that all of my relationships have been finally worked out and are restored – back in good daily communication – having put the past behind – but sadly this is not true. But I still wait in anticipation for God to truly restore and heal – and bring back to me – what was once lost. There must still be lessons for me to learn. Until then – I am still working on me. I am in process – on a long journey.