When I was 15 years old I was in jail for breaking and entering. There were other crimes including car theft that I got away with by lying. I hung out with a gang of my peers and yet I was a loner. I drank beer as soon as I could get it, started smoking at age 12, and sex became a normal part of my life at age 12 after I was molested by a Catholic priest. I was convicted of a felony and sentenced to reform school for 3 ½ years, but because my parents hired an attorney, I was placed on probation. I didn’t do homework, cut classes, and graduated from high school with a D-. I got a diploma only because a bookkeeping teacher made me go to school a week longer than anyone else to make up assignments I missed in her class before she would give me a passing grade. I passed high school speech without giving one speech. Authority meant nothing to me. As a result of the sexual abuse I had no respect for the church and I rebelled against every form of authority. I was acting out in anger, but I didn’t know I was angry then. Apparently no one else was aware of it either.
As soon as I graduated I joined the Navy and found an authority that could and did contain me. I enjoyed the four years I served and got to see a lot of the world. Through that experience I became a responsible person and was in a leadership position most of the time. I scored high on all of the tests, graduated 12 out of a class of 84 in radioman school, and advanced to 2nd Class Radioman Petty Officer in the shortest time possible. All the anger from my adolescent/teen years was surpressed, and yet to be dealt with.
After the Navy I moved to Kansas City and was married in 1966. I was 24. When I was 28 I went through the first of four divorces. I remarried my wife in December of 1970, four months after my dad died. I became a Christian two days later. It was then I started having bursts of cursing God. It scared me and I would pray until they subsided. The first bout with severe depression came in the next year. These depressions came after or during divorces. I still didn’t know I was still supressing anger. I now believe these internal bursts were an internal rage – actually a deep resentment due to the anger I suppressed for years. The anger from the divorces was overwhelming and took me into severe depressions. I was still unaware of the root cause.
In 1998 I went through the fourth divorce and was criticized by a minister about some decisions I had made during my last marriage. For the next eight years I stayed away from church. When I tried to listen to a message on television or on the radio the thoughts would come back. During all these years I would not give up my relationship with God. What I mean is I continued to pray and praise Him. I could do this in quiet times with Him. I just couldn’t do it in church. During this time my fear of death increased. Although I believed in my mind I was saved I was afraid of the thought of facing God. In 2006 I began to have a desire to seek out a church and due to some invitations I started attending Schweitzer United Methodist Church in Springfield, MO. I had become a recluse as far as social relationships were concerned. I met several people and I became a member in April of 2007. This church preaches and lives the Gospel. During the next year God began to really work in me. I believe He was working all along, but I couldn’t hear Him. I wasn’t ready yet.
During the week of Thanksgiving, 2007, my wife and I went on a cruise. On the way to Galveston we stopped in a store. My wife wanted a magazine to read so we headed to that section. There was a selection of Christian books and my eyes fell on one. I felt strongly I should purchase it and I did. It was Daily Inspiration for the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I had heard of the book, but had never read it. The next day I mentioned this devotional to a step-daughter we were visiting and she said she had the book Purpose Driven Life and that I could borrow it. On the third day in the devotional on the second day of the cruise about 10am I wrote this in the devotional book:
“Father, I, at this time, this hour, this minute, and this second give you my past, present, and future. I forgive all of all and give it to you. I no longer wish to struggle with it or the results of it. Not for any reason or purpose. I give you every thing I am, every thing I have, all of it. Take it. Do with it what you want. Take the fear, the anger, the low self esteem, low self worth, performance, worry, anxiety, and do what you want with it. I accept your love, forgiveness, patience, plans, and purpose. I am yours. 11/19/07.”
By noon I was starting to feel some anxiety. My wife and I went to the ship’s infirmary and I had my blood pressure taken. It was normal. By that evening I was deep into anxiety. My mind was scattered and I could not concentrate. I went to bed about ten that evening, but I knew I would not be able to sleep. Lying in the darkness of the cabin, my wife asleep beside me, The Lord began to speak to me.
He said, “Tom, let’s reason together.” He asked me if I really believed I had the power to make Him stop loving me. I said no. He then asked me if I really believed I could sin enough to undo what His Son did for me on Calvary. I said no. Do you believe you can sin so much that the price He paid is not enough? I said no. He told me I seemed to have no problem with including myself in the “all” that sinned and come short of the glory of God, but I seemed to have trouble including myself in the “all” whose sins were covered by the blood of Jesus on the cross.
He reminded me that Paul said that where there is sin grace abounded more. He went on to tell me that it was an issue of not trusting Him – not believing His word – that my not believing Him, not trusting Him, implied I believed He was a liar. I told Him I did not intend to not believe Him or His Word. It was then that I made a decision to trust Him. To believe every word of His Word.
He told me He allowed the anxiety to overtake me so that I would hear His voice. He told me He allowed me to hear Satan’s voice in the process so I would know the difference between His voice and the enemy’s voice. His voice comforted me. The enemy’s voice caused anxiety. I know the difference now. Slowly the anxiety began to leave me. I shared all of this with my best friend – my wife. I decided I could not seclude myself. We were on the cruise with another of my step-daughters and her family. They knew something was wrong so I shared with them what was happening. This led to some very healthy spiritual conversations with her husband. We had never had any before.
I continued to share this with family members as my wife and I made our way back home. We stopped in San Marcos, TX to do some shopping and I visited a Christian book store. I bought a couple of T shirts for witnessing and I was impressed to look for a book on anger. I asked one of the sales ladies if they had one and she said they had just received a new one. I purchased ANGER HANDLING A POWERFUL EMOTION IN A HEALTHY WAY by Gary Chapman. If you think this was an accident or coincidence I have news for you. There was a chapter titled When You are Angry at God.
I immediately went to it and read part of it there in the store. I knew in my heart there were answers for me in this book. Some nights when we go to bed I read to my wife until she goes to sleep. Although I was in the process of another book, I decided to start this one. When I came to chapter seven I found out what had happened to me 37 years ago. I had imploded. Thank God, I never really exploded. I now know He has protected me from numerous addictions and mental illnesses and from doing harm to myself or someone else.
If anything I have written has spoken to you, you will want to explore these books God has used to bring me to healing. You will find the links below. I know none of these authors of these books personally except for the first one. There is no gain for me in recommending them to you except to help you as much as I can. I was never taught how to handle anger. In all honesty, I didn’t really know I was angry until nine years ago when a medical doctor told me I was a very angry man. Until that time I didn’t connect with what I was told by any doctors, ministers, or counselors. I was told that depression is anger turned inward, but the understanding of what that meant escaped me. It wasn’t until I read chapter 7 of ANGER HANDLING A POWERFUL EMOTION IN A HEALTHY WAY that I understood what had happened to me and that my anger or rage from the pain I suffered was misdirected at God.
Now that I understand the process of anger in my life and how to deal with it in a healthy and constructive way, I am finding peace and contentment. My desire is to help others with their struggle.
God used all of these books and tools in the process of healing me. He is an awesome God!