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Thursday, February 24, 2011


I got really angry sunday afternoon. I have been pretty good at not losing my temper for many months. Yelling is a release of anger, but afterward I can feel awful for days. I do not like writng about this, but some people may endure the same struggles. So.....

I am well aware of the genetic element to all this. Bad tempers run through my parents in both directions. Explosive tempers are part of our history. In addition to genetics, there is also the whole modeling of behaviors. When I am real mad I can hear and see my dad. The memories were not traumatic. I just can recall how mad he got. I find myself thinking, "I am dad."

A couple days ago at morning prayer we read where Jesus (basically) said, "you have heard it say do not kill, but I say whoever is angry with his brother has sinned." As I sat in the church hearing that I felt sad. I usually feel sad after losing my temper. It makes it doubly difficult when the Lord and Savior of the Universe is telling you how bad it is...

Today I was reading a chapter of John of the Cross. He is a Spanish mystic and (to me) the best author on the spiritual life ever. He coined the term "dark night of the soul." That is the actual title of his book. In his book he writes about the struggles for "beginners" in the spiritual life. He says that all of the sins of the flesh (like gluttony and lust, etc.) have a spiritual counterpart (e.g., gluttony for religous objects or spiritual experiences). It is a great psychological insight that our core problems are deeper than the base manifestations of our sins. Today I opened to chapter five ("Of the imperfections  into which beginners fall with respect to the sin of wrath"). First of all, John is writing for monks and serious minded people. There is some consolation in knowing that the audience is for commmitted Christians. He is explaining what happens to us on our journey of prayer. He says because of concupiscence (an overwhelming strong desire, lustiness) people get angry. After prayer, we desire that the peace and satisfaction in prayer would continue, we are frustrated (like a baby) when it ends. We want that peace and joy and when we do not have it we get angry. Another cause of "spiritual wrath" is the focus on sins of others. We are irritated by their failings. Lastly, we are frustrated by our own lack of progress. We see our own failings and brokeness and become angry with ourselves.

Needless to say, I am that guy: angry when my peace is disrupted (by life), frustrated by the failings of others to be more faithful and disgusted by my own hypocricy and sin. So it builds up and someone seets me off and "Boom!" (a raging father). So, we ask forgiveness (of those offended and Almighty God) and we pick back up. I am so sick and tired of my sinning, yet I still go on doing it. Fortunately, Jesus said other words. Things like "neither do I condem you, go and sin no more" or "your sins are forgiven, get up and walk." So there is hope. But it is the hope of those in desperate need of being healed. I thought, as a young man, that in thirty years I would be holy. I was overly optimistic! Unfortunately, the reality is far less sparkling. Still the same old guy. But I do know that it is not all lost. I hope others undersatnd the same thing. Most of us are still beginners in the spiritual journey, but better a beginner than someone not on the path at all. So, if you sin sin, then repent, make ammends, focus on Jesus and follow Him!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Jeff... we are in the same place these days. Romans 7:19... St. Paul struggled. We struggle. Our children and grandchildren will struggle. But with our eyes on Christ, and the hope for salvation always before us, one day, I pray, the struggle will be over and we will know only peace.

    Until then, we struggle on, my friend.