How has the Angry-God-Narrative shaped your life? What have you done to reshape the Angry-God-Narrative?
I have been blessed by not having a life shaped by the Angry God Narrative. I know that story is out there and I’ve seen people’s lives seriously damaged by it, but it has not been my primary picture of God.
I know what it’s like to have an angry authority figure in my life. Until I was 21, my mom struggled with undiagnosed and untreated bipolar disorder. When she was ill — and she was very often ill — she was unpredictably controlling and angry. At times I thought I had the best mom in the world because she would let us do pretty much whatever crossed our minds. We were intelligent, creative children and lots of things crossed our minds. We were kids running wild, footloose and fancy free! Then her mood would change, nothing would be OK, and the judgmental God she was raised with would surface.
It was very difficult, very painful, and very scary.
Thankfully, our loving God always put people in my life who knew him for what he really was. My dad. Teachers, both at school and at church. Extended family. Family friends. Some were people who knew there was hurt in our family but didn’t know what to do. Others were people who got really involved and helped me sort through some of that difficulty, pain, and fear. Some just listened to me cry. All of them either modeled Jesus or very directly encouraged me to seek him. Sometimes both.
My heart hurts for people who have only had the Angry God Narrative. I remember being very young and going to sleep, crying to God. I didn’t understand. I was hurt. Sometimes I was very angry with God and yet he was still the “person” I turned to.
Somehow, I knew he cared. I knew he loved. I didn’t understand him but I understood that. Maybe because of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Maybe because of Mrs. Whosit, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which in A Wrinkle in Time. Definitely because of my dad, Jim Woodroof, Mona Lee Garner, Craig Jones, and Mike Cope.
How would you know you were forgiven if an angry God was the only God you knew? How could you believe in his love and grace? How much do we damage people when we focus more on judgment and rules than on mercy? Feeling that you will never be good enough is a terrible way to exist.
Exd 33:19 The LORD replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, `the LORD,’ to you. I will show kindness to anyone I choose, and I will show mercy to anyone I choose.”
Postscript added Wednesday, July 29:
My mom’s unwavering commitment to God is one of the best examples of faithfulness I’ve had in my life. The difficulties that were caused by her illness were real and tragic, but the mercy that God has shown our family can’t be put into words. Twenty years ago I could not have imagined that we would be who we are today. We have all had to grieve what was lost during those years, but my parents’ commitment to God and to each other provided an example of faithfulness and forgiveness that few people ever see. I love my mom and look forward to spending eternity together with her. My dad is one of the finest and most intelligent Christian men I have ever known. I wear the name Underwood with both humility and great pride.