I was told not to be angry about things that happened at church. If I was angry about wrongdoing in church, I was told I was bitter. I was told to forgive and forget, to release it to God, to pray through… And if none of these worked I was told I could just leave, that maybe I couldn’t be saved, that I was in sin through disobedience to the pastor for being angry and not stopping my anger or for questioning ‘the man of God’ by being upset…
There are serious issues with all of these. Most importantly, it is not wrong to be angry about wrongdoing. Not ever. No matter where it happens. It is not sin. Its OK to be angry about some things. Anger can be positive or negative. (After all, even God gets angry.) And that doesn’t mean some anger is good and some anger is bad, but that anger can be used either for good or bad.
Bitterness is NOT being upset about negative things that happened. Again, there are things that we SHOULD be angry and upset about. Anger spurs people to action, and God never called anyone to inaction when it comes to sin.
‘Release it to God’ is what my former church told me to do when they told me to forget about things and pretend they never happened… that isn’t biblical or even human. Neither is ‘getting over it’. Can we grow and heal? Yes. We can stop thinking about certain things repeatedly, we can stop dwelling on hurts, we can begin discussing or thinking of them without anger… it takes time. It’s not a magic ‘just pray through And God will immediately change everything’ thing most of the time, though. And it may start with being less afraid, of just breathing, relaxing a bit, and not condemning ourselves for being angry or hurt or frustrated, or for not understanding everything, or trying to force ourselves to forget things that are part of who we are.
See also, Taking Every Thought Captive.