Growing up, it had been made very clear to me that I was to do as instructed and never question God, the pastor or anyone in the church, or my mother. So when I was told at the age of 15 that I would be marrying the preacher’s son, I remained silent. In that marriage, my total compliance to my husband’s authority cost me my health, but I remained true to my teachings.
After my husband left me, I began to work on a “new” me. I took my three daughters and moved to a state where we had never lived…to begin a “new” life.
Old programming dies hard. Even though the denomination I had devoted my whole life to had kicked me out when my husband left, that is the church the girls and I walked to on that first Sunday morning.
But they had no class for a divorced 30-year old woman. The Associate Pastor escorted me down a hall and tried to usher me into a room full of older ladies…some with blue hair. I turned to that pastor and asked, “Would you want to go in there?” He explained they had no class for me.
So he suggested I try a class that met across the street in a house. Unknown to me, that class was known to others as the “renegade” class because they questioned everything. Unknown to that pastor, he was sending someone who had never challenged any dogma of the church into a room filled with uninhibited minds. What an eye opener!
Some Sundays I feared the roof would fall in. Other Sundays I would find myself thinking if possibly they could be right about an issue. Just even allowing such thoughts was frightening. But these were college professors and professional people. Obviously they were smart.
Over time I began to offer a few tidbits of my life.
One Sunday the topic was on anger. To me it was simple. Anger was a sin. Therefore, you should never be angry. And I never had.
After class, Mac (a psychologist) laid his hand on my shoulder. I flinched. Being touched by another man was against my programming. He saw the stiffening, but did not remove his hand.
“I’ve been watching you,” he said. “If anyone else said they had never been angry, I would laugh. But I believe you when you say it. And you’ve had some things happen to you that you should be angry about. I would like to help you learn how to be angry.”
My response. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to learn to be angry. Anger is a sin.”
“No,” he said. “It’s what you do when you are angry that is the sin.”
I’d never heard it that way before.
“But I can’t afford any sessions with you”, I told him.
He smiled as he said, “I would not charge you. It would be my pleasure to help you out of your box.”
I had no clue what that meant. But I liked Mac, so agreed to a time and place.
My new routine was to go to work, go to Mac’s and then go home. I would walk through a living room in disarray, stepping over three children watching television, go immediately to the kitchen and begin to cook supper.
After about the third session with Mac, I came home, walked through the living room and headed for the kitchen. Suddenly, I did a U-turn. Striding to the television, I turned it off and stood in front of it. Three pairs of very wide eyes stared at me, not sure what to do.
“I’ve been going to Mac to learn how to be angry, and I’m very angry,” I said in a calm and level voice. “Now get up off your butts. Dawn, you do this and this. Lyn, you do that and that. Rene’ you take care of this and that. And I’m giving you fair warning. When I come home from work, the house will be clean. You will also learn to cook your own supper. Now go.”
As I walked toward the kitchen, my step was lighter. I had just been angry. It felt good.
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