Why Are You So Angry?

3 comments Written on January 8th, 2016     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories
Veronica Gilliard is a member of New Life Covenant Church in Atlanta, Georgia. She also serves as secretary of the Southeast Conference Women Ministries Executive Board. She is also currently a student, pursuing her PhD in Educational Leadership with a specialization in Higher Education. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, bowling, and reading.

lamentLast month I was able to attend a conference with an unofficial theme: lament. The idea of this particular collective of individuals was to allow us a time and space to come together, in light of the nation’s multiple recent tragic events and deliberate injustices, and to encourage and challenge each other. In light of all that happened, we came together with an unspoken acknowledgement that we were all broken, yet willing to press onward, not necessarily toward change, but more importantly toward conviction.

We often like to describe wrestling with this brokenness as “processing” when we should be lamenting. Processing is important, but rather useless if we never move on into lamentation.

As a woman, I struggle with the principle of lament. I am expected to weep, wail, grieve, and display sorrow, particularly over things others see as trivial. This expectation is reinforced daily as you hear bigoted, sexist remarks such as:

Spoken: He throws like a girl.
Unspoken: Girls are weak.

Spoken: Stop crying like a little girl.
Unspoken: Girls are emotional.

Spoken: That girl needs a man.
Unspoken: Girls rarely get the decency of being referred to as women. A women’s agency and value are inextricably tied to her relationship status with a man.

So on and so forth. In a lot of ways I find myself resisting the displays of emotion that are expected of me, for fear of confirming a stereotype that I know to be unfair and inaccurate. Yet at the same time, my heart breaks for so many groups right now: refugees, immigrants, students, parents and families of disabled children, disabled adults, teachers and professors, the poor, those in leadership, etc. Yet, try as I might to hold all that in, there are times when I need to express my emotions, and the emotion that I choose is lament.

Interestingly enough, the more I have chosen to lament for the broken nature of this world, the more I am asked the following question: Why are you so angry?

Anger? No, lament! Immediately I feel stereotyped again, questioning the way I expressed my grief; second guessing the decision to depict my sorrow. Scatterbrained, I find myself trying to justify my weeping.

Today, I encourage you to resist the need to justify your lament. Christ did not call us to stoic, politically correct, and agreeable lifestyles. As we lament, let us be unashamed of our voices, using them to acknowledge both tragic events and deliberate injustices, and to encourage and challenge each other while praying earnestly for change.

For example, I lament the sociocultural oppression that inhibits my ability to lament without being stereotyped as an angry black woman.

What do you lament?

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3 comments “Why Are You So Angry?”

I lament the great divide between younger and older women who believe that deep sisterhood is not possible because of the different ways we each see the world.

Thanks so much for the openness in this post and the invitation to sit in lament – not moving too quickly to dismiss or deny but to own what is causing deep, deep sorrow. 

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I lament the lack of unity between white women and women of color and that white women have often ignored or silenced the stories of women of color while fighting for their own stories to be heard.

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Thanks, Veronica, for your candor.  It’s tragic that anyone should have to justify or defend their lament.  Why should anyone have to do that? Unfortunately, it seems that some are backed in a corner more than others. It shouldn’t be so. 

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