Posted in musings

the effects of anger on a marriage

If you’re immersed in the Christian subculture, the emphasis is such that it can seem like pornography use or other sexual sin is the worst thing that can happen to a marriage. But really, you know, a marriage can weather that kind of storm, if both partners are willing to come together in humility and forgiveness and rebuild the trust that was broken. I’ve actually been privileged enough to witness this a couple times, not in people I’m particularly close to, but in friends of friends, and it is a truly powerful image of grace.

What I think is more damaging to a relationship, in the long run, though it doesn’t have the shock and awe moments of an affair or betrayal, is smoldering, simmering resentment, bitterness and contempt in one spouse towards the other (or even worse, in both partners toward each other). When there is this kind of baseline negativity towards one’s partner, they can do nothing right, there are no kind words, forgiveness is grudging, casual misunderstandings turn into fights, and the duties of sharing a home are carried out passive-aggressively. This marriage may look fine on the outside, but the inside is being eaten away by a cancer of unrighteous anger.

As the apostle Peter wrote, “love covers over a multitude of sin” (1 Peter 4:8) – and so, if a marriage is grounded in and sustained by love, the failings and imperfections of each spouse can be overcome in forgiveness and grace. But if a marriage lacks this deep and unconditional love, a love that bears all things, hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things, then it will be shaken to its core and in danger of destruction. It is hard, but essential, for us as married people to reset our baseline emotions toward our spouses, from a default of bitterness and resentment to the commanded love and mercy that analogizes Christ and the Church. Only by so doing can we hope to maintain the joy and beauty of our marriage, make our homes a holy and happy place for our children to grow, and reach out to our communities with genuine hospitality. Our attitudes toward our spouses ripple outward in their effects to touch everyone we know. May it be a ripple of love and abundance and joy rather than one of loneliness, hurt, and anger.

Posted in musings


I wonder if everyone has a specific vice (as in, a tendency towards a general category of sins, vs. a specific sin itself) that proves most challenging for them, most difficult to remove, most damaging to their relationships and their own souls.

Mine would have to be wrath.

Misplaced, disproportionate, uncontrolled anger, strengthened by self-righteousness, latching onto my soul with bitterness and smoldering resentment.

The kind of flaring, volcanic passion that makes me, with all my gentle parenting ideals, wanting to slap my kid as hard as I can because he keeps laughing in my face and climbing out of bed when everyone is exhausted and needs to go to sleep.

The kind of all-consuming, fiery emotion that leaves me unable to focus, unable to work, unable to pray, unable to give back and build into the lives of others around me until I can manage to fight it off or sleep it off.

The kind of suspicious bitterness that remembers a past grievance and holds onto it forever, always expecting a repeat of the offense, never trusting completely again once the other person has made a mistake or sinned against me, withholding true forgiveness.

The kind of irrational reaction to events that responds as if every inconvenience or misunderstanding were a personal attack or insult or rejection, that makes me want to burn bridges between friends simply because of a chance word or my perception of the expression on someone’s face.

When I imagine being free of the presence and power of sin in my life, when I imagine what it would be like to be holy, the biggest change I envision is the disappearance of this dark and ugly anger, the liberation of my soul from its clutching tentacles. It was this vice that led me to pray the sinner’s prayer at 7 years old, that impelled me to more deeply fall in love with God at age 12, that continues to both be the bane of my existence and the thing that pushes me back to God asking for His mercy and forgiveness. Is there some way that these passions, in me and in others, can be redeemed and used for good? I don’t know. That kind of transformative power isn’t something I can picture right now, but maybe it is one of the incredible gifts God has in store for us. All I know is this: that my wrath is set to destroy me and everything I hold most dear, and that I need to pray, as so many have prayed before me:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Posted in musings

fighting for joy

In gardening news, Rondel and I planted most of the purple sweet potato slips this weekend! Some were a lot bigger than others, so we’ll see if they all make it or not… the orange ones will need to grow a bit more in their jars first, but we left some space for them.

In other news, I was thinking this week about how joy can’t be taken for granted but must be fought for, sometimes by tooth and nail. I can’t just assume that relationships and circumstances will happily accommodate me, nor can I assume that my response to adverse situations will be one of cheerfulness and contentment. If I want to have joy, I have to do the hard work of maintaining it in my heart.

Practically, I know that there are a few specific things that consistently impair my ability to be joyful: issues with my husband, a lack of prayer, and sleep deprivation. (Hormones also play a role but there’s less I can actively do about that!) So when the morning starts off with a misunderstanding or argument with my husband, it tends to color my whole day in blacks and grays; by default, I either become sad and depressed or bitter and resentful. If joy really matters to me, I have to be willing to swallow my pride, bury my anger, and actively seek reconciliation and understanding again. Sometimes it’s as simple as a “sorry for what happened – I love you” sort of text – and yet, while it may be simple, it sometimes seems like an impossible task.

But it all comes down to whether or not I really want to live with joy. I don’t believe that I will always be able to have joy, no matter how hard I strive for it, but I do believe that it is a very different thing to be overwhelmed by my emotions and sinful tendencies but to still be fighting with all my strength for hope and peace and joy, than to raise the white flag to the general progression of discontent and stress and insecurity without a second thought. And after all, our joy is directly commanded by God. It is not a trivial or selfish thing to fight for it, but something that pleases Him and blesses everyone around us – so it is very much worth the effort that it takes.

In the emptiness of bleak despair, He is my fullness and hope.

In the piercing pain of loneliness, He is my comforter and my companion.

In the gnawing fear of inadequacy and rejection, He is my helper and the lover of my soul.

In the storm of brokenness and sin (my own and others’) that threatens to capsize me, He is the source and sustainer of my joy, and it is under His flag that I fight when I fight for joy.