Depression as “Anger turned inward”…

Freud suggested that people become depressed because the anger they feel for others, who have hurt or let them down, is turned inwards.

Meditation: The Christian tradition often labels anger as “sin” and persons who are angry as “sinners”. Yes, it is true that unleashed anger can cause damage and can be wounding. Yes, we need to find ways to express anger in constructive ways. And yes, a healthy way of dealing with anger is to talk about it, release it and find ways to forgive. However, when the myth exists that anger equals “sin” or “being out of line” and cannot be allowed or tolerated, it leads to internalized anger. Anger is a healthy response to injustice: “Something is not right!” If anger cannot be acknowledged, expressed or validated, it causes even greater injustice. Namely greater injustice as anger towards one’s self and further damaging rage against the very self that had been wronged to begin with! And then anger turned inward often leads to the mental experience we call depression. Depression can be described as a “numbing of one’s soul”, which feels like slow death. However, God wants life. God is not afraid of our anger. Anger is a healthy sign that “something is wrong”. God and Jesus both are portrait in the biblical tradition as expressing anger. So why do both church and society try to suppress anger? Probably because they want to hide injustices they participated in committing and then control those who are being failed by blaming them and calling them “sinners” and “out of line”.

Prayer: God, thank you that we can rage in front of you. Thank you that we are allowed to kick and scream at times. Thank you that you know all the experiences of injustice we went through. And those are not right! Those are not “according to your will”. Your will for us is to be treated fairly and to be alive, including the expression of our anger. Help us to find constructive and safe ways to express our rage and anger. Help us become alive again! And we are grateful. Amen

Jonah was not happy that God saved the city. Jonah became angry. He complained to the Lord and said, “Lord, I knew this would happen!… So now, Lord, just kill me. It is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:1-3

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