The album title is so appropriate for this album because lyrically and emotionally, it’s hard to swallow. The album kicks off with the song “All I Really Want” as she takes you on a very sarcastic, emotional ride through a minute-by-minute recount of her anger at so many injustices in her life from failed relationships in love to disillusionment with God and life in general. With that characteristic angst in her voice, she sings/shouts “You, you, you oughta know.” Her voice is honest, raw, and a just a little more than abrasive at times. Yet, somehow it’s refreshing to hear someone just say it like it is, no holds barred, and let it all come undone.
In my work as a music therapist, I have the interesting and crazy job (it’s okay, you were thinking it) of teaching about everything from how to go to the potty to how to read emotions on the faces of others. Things I never expected to do in my lifetime? Make a video complete with dancing and masks about feelings. Enter Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse and the song “Feelings.” With a dog puppet, four kids, a band and Handy Sam in tow we sing, “I feel mad my face is scrunched tight. I stomp around and want to start a fight. I feel mad.”
Yet, the reality is, it’s much harder for me to say those words, “I feel mad.” Anger doesn’t feel like an emotion that I should allow myself to have, right? Shouldn’t I just see the positive in every circumstance and how it will all work out in the end? Anger always feels like one of those out of control emotions. Having recently seen the movie Bridesmaids, I have imagesof Kristen Wiig as Annie as she snaps and throws a tantrum, destroying the decorations and food at her best friend’s wedding shower. Unchecked anger. Whoa.
And yet I have begun to realize that anger can be the fuel for so much good in the world. In some strange way, I need to let myself sit with it. And yes, it’s okay to feel angry, to scream, to yell and to shout at the heartache of this broken world. It seems that it isn’t until we really get angry about something that it prompts us to action. Anger at the injustice of poverty causes us to want to stand together and to start a movement to change that reality for others. Anger at evil in the world causes us to want to stand and fight for the good. Anger at the lies that come all around us forces us to stand together as a community, as a church, and to slice through darkness with truth and light.
In the midst of this contemplation, I pulled out the album again and started scanning the list of the familiar songs. “You Learn,” “Hand in My Pocket, ”Forgiven.” Wait a minute, “Forgiven?” I don’t remember that song on here. It’s interesting to me that on this album so filled with anger, this song is stuck in the middle. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. The flip side of anger is forgiveness. How can we move forward if we hold on to this? Anger can be like hot stones, something we can’t hold on to for very long. We can hold on to it long enough to wake us up but then we’ve got to let it go. That’s so much harder to do. Forgiveness is a much harder pill to swallow.
How can I learn to do that? To let go of those stones, to let people see my scars and to slowly open my hands and forgive those people and circumstances that have wounded me. It’s when that release happens that I’m able to walk forward and trust God at the deepest level of my hurt. I am able to find new life, joy and a greater capacity to love others. And as I stand with all my scars from past wounds, I begin to see that my Savior has some scars on his hands too.
As I was writing this, I learned that today kicks of National Forgiveness Week culminating on this Friday, October 29th. Okay, God you’ve got my attention now. I get it. Forgiveness is important. This week my prayer is that God would give me the strength to let go, forgive and create new spaces in my life for new things. And THAT is all I really want.