Posted by: karanoel | October 19, 2016

Anger’s worst enemy

Someone made me mad last week. Hopping mad. Poor John walked through the door just as I was discovering the offense and received the hurricane force of my reaction. It was so strong, even I was taken aback. Despite my attempts to forgive a whole lot of past wrongs, there was clearly lingering resentment which allowed for a quick leap to judgment and justification for saying a whole lot of bad things about this person that I will spare your wholesome selves from hearing.

The next day, when I hopped into the car, I turned on a CD series on marriage I had been listening to in fits and starts for several weeks. In one of those moments of divine timing, the first words out of the speaker’s mouth were about forgiving people who have done you wrong. It was mostly stuff I know and practice, and I probably wouldn’t have listened so intently had I not been in such a vulnerable place, but then..…. he told me to pray for and bless this woman who has caused me so much grief. [I am very familiar with Luke 6:28 where Jesus says to bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you, but I felt excluded based on the perceived persecuted-because-of-your-faith specificity. Except it doesn’t say that. So apparently it applies to me in a daily you-hurt-me kind of way after all.]

In that moment, as I was driving down the 55, it made perfect sense. The stance on forgiveness I usually take isn’t bad – letting go of each offense and trusting God’s ability to work it all together for good. It’s an important start, but it is fairly passive. To invest my words and time and heart for the good of someone who has mistreated me; well, that is an active assault on this ugly thing that binds me.

According to the speaker’s example, after a while of blessing his persecutor, the bitterness broke and he had genuine compassion and love for that person, which sounded very appealing to me. So I jumped into this blessing thing, a little awkwardly but with enthusiasm. Every time one of those resentful thoughts popped into my head, I started blessing my offender’s life, health, relationships, finances – you name it.  It was utterly empowering and felt so good to my angry heart. And the thing that was taken from me that inspired such anger in the first place? It was replaced from a totally different source in a surprising way; almost as if God were affirming that he would take care of me as I trust in him.

That in itself was life changing, but I was hit with another epiphany the following day as I made my bed. No one mistreats, curses or judges me more than I do. I no longer experience the depths of self hatred I used to (for which I am very grateful), but measuring myself with an unholy perfectionism continues to create a consistent awareness of and frustration over all the ways I fall short. I can easily get mad at various parts of myself – my body, my mind, my looks, my personality, my abilities – when they don’t function or look the way I think they should. It would not be a stretch to say there is bitterness in some areas, and a pretty perpetual fear of failing since the self-criticism can be so harsh.

It immediately became clear that while it is a good start to forgive myself for my failings and let God love me, I am to move into that active, empowering stance of blessing myself – all the parts of me in all their imperfections. Because God has made me worthy of kindness and his love has covered every shortcoming I will ever have. If he has deemed me acceptable because of the sacrifice of his Son, who am I to withhold love? So every time a critical thought or accusation pops into my head, I am countering it with a blessing. Not to disregard sin or pretend I’m perfect, but to extend the grace that was purchased for me so that I can come boldly before the throne without condemnation and see myself as I truly am – a beloved child of God.

It has been under a week since I have begun to practice this new exercise, but good Lord, I am already seeing transformation in the way I see those who have hurt me – both this woman and myself. I pray that I will be able to press on in the aggressive act of blessing until every tie to the old way of measuring, judging and woundedness has been severed. I hope that you will join me.


Responses

  1. I’m in (:-))


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