I know I have a problem — I like to play versions of Angry Birds, Candy Crush and Words with Friends. I can get absorbed. I can use it to back off from the world (I’m a bit of an introvert and sometimes I do need to retreat).
That said, there are lessons to be learned from games. This morning’s “Aha!” is focus on the goal and let go of the unnecessary things — in games and in life. Were those 2 angry Red Birds that got left behind when all the bubbles tumbled down past an opened lock necessary to accomplish the goal? Uh — no, it turns out. But, I like using all of my special Red Birds (and Yellow Birds) and I didn’t get to make things explode with the 2 that got left behind! Let it go! They were distractions. Unnecessary to completing the goal.
And so with life. Sometimes I don’t want to give up my anger, my hurt, my sense of righteous indignation. I mean, that’s like letting the other guy win, right? Maybe not. Maybe it is necessary to leave these things on the table and walk away. Of course, I have to actually own the hurt, anger, frustration before I can actually lay it down and leave it on the table. I must admit that this person did indeed cause me a lot of pain and grief. I have to look at the present, and try not to let it be colored so intensely by the past. If he wants to converse with me now, and pretend it never happened, well — what am I losing by being present in the present and relaxing? I don’t forget exactly and I am cautious around him. But, not letting go (not forgiving) is really only hurting me it seems.
It’s hard to figure out sometimes why I hang on to some things: be they hurts or old tech, clothes that don’t fit or that I wouldn’t wear even if they did, photos that are out of focus and need to be deleted. I just found a Garmin, an iPod mini and a Fitbit in a drawer. All dead as doornails. Why do I keep them? I let negative reactions keep me from making contact with others. How are these things advancing me toward seeing/loving with God’s eyes? Hanging on to those clothes is a bit of hanging on to a past version of me.
So, to day is one of those where I am bothered by the fact that forgiving just isn’t alway easy. A day where I find it easy to let the anger rise against someone who hurt someone I care about. I find that more difficult to get past than when someone hurts me directly. Really. Hurt me directly, I can generally find a way to forgive and move on. Hurt my friend or my child, and it requires a lot more work to forgive and move on.
I do so detest spending the energy on anger — the person I’m angry with isn’t a bad person. Clueless at times? Yes. Caught in the middle at times? Yes. And yet, it just jumps up from my gut and plagues me.
I’ve made the first step — the one where you sit and admit that you really are hurting and angry. I’m just not doing so good at giving that anger a good shake and setting it down. I’m not doing so good at not wanting the person I’m angry with to hurt — just a little bit. I want her to feel bad. To own the fact that it was indeed her choice that caused the hurt to someone I care about.
Onward — I’ll just have to sit with it a bit longer it seems… pray for help in letting go… ask Jesus to come sit with me and teach me to accept the hurt and transform it to love. (Yup — He’s got a big task there).
I had a serendipitous conversation with a friend a couple of days ago that started with being tired of being angry. Anger is a very tiresome emotion. It can really suck the life out of a person, and it is pretty useless and non-productive. Oh, I know that there are times when Anger has seemed to energize me and moved me to action. But, even then, it is a very draining way of being moved to action.
My friend mentioned that she had in the not so distant past decided to pray for all the men she had dated over the past 20 years… I don’t know what the issues are/were, but, I could tell that that there had been much anger and frustration. I knew where she was coming from, since I once had a penance that involved offering every song I sung at mass for those that I felt persecuted me. (Music was one component of the persecution) Aaarrggghhh! I almost cried because I knew it was exactly what was needed.
Funny thing about this idea of praying for those who persecute you: Both of us reflected that we started slowly and begrudgingly to walk through the motions of praying for those we were angry with and had been deeply hurt by. We just said the words because it was the right thing to do. Slowly, it changed. Slowly, the process moved from saying prayers for them to praying for them. Then, to really praying for them. And one day you look up and realize that you are really praying for them, and Anger has given up trying to hold you in that place where you eat the rat poison and hope the rat dies.
Myself, I understood that when one of those who I felt persecuted me launched into something that would previously have angered me, hurt me, made me feel in danger. I realized that I was no longer angry, but very sad for this person. I was praying for him. I was asking God to bring healing and good things into his life. What a load I set down that day.
That’s not so say that these persecutions were not painful or that at some level I was not justified in my feelings of anger toward the other. And, in some cases, in many cases, you may not ever be close to the persecutor. It might be bad and downright dangerous. But, to move from a need for vengeance and anger to a place of letting go, stepping back from me and into a place of sincere concern for someone is one of those miracles we need in our daily lives.
I hesitate to admit that I am a faithful follower of “Private Practice” but there are lessons to be learned in all aspects of life.
If you follow the show you are familiar with the story line concerning Charlotte’s rape and the aftermath. If not, here’s the brief run down: Charlotte, one of the doctors on the show was attacked and raped in her office. In the immediate aftermath she admits to being attacked (hard to deny considering the bashing she took and the resulting cuts, bruises and assorted injuries); As the story unfolds, she finally gets past that denial and her friends and fiance are of course outraged, angry and looking for vengence (I have no idea how to spell that word, I’ve tried every variation I can think of and the spell checker hates them all).
Long story short, the rapist reappears, in Charlotte’s hospital, with a knife in his chest as a result of an altercation with his girlfriend.
Now it gets really interesting. Charlotte can actually decide whether to save him or not. This is reality — we’re not talking morals here, but gut level emotions. As she struggles with this, one of her friends, Naomi comes to her with advice. Forgive him. That’s how you move on with your life. That’s how you free yourself from the burden of living with this brutality and fear for the rest of your life. Forgive him. Don’t let him die.
In the end, Charlotte does just that. She faces her attacker after he is stabilized and tells him that she forgives him. That he has no hold over her. He no longer scares her. She walks away, I dare say, a new woman. I also figure that she will have to work out that forgiveness over time. But, she made the decision to forgive.
Forgiving is often a very difficult road. Just because you say “I forgive you” doesn’t magically make it happen. I know this. But, to decide to forgive is a first step in the process. It is necessary for the injured party. It doesn’t have to be accepted by the person you forgive. The person doing the forgiving gains as much, if not more that the person being forgiven. If I forgive, I can quit drinking the poison and hoping the other guy dies.
Jesus was definitely on to something here. The Our Father asks that we be forgiven as we forgive others. To me, that strongly suggests that the first steps in being forgiven is to forgive another. Think about it…
Some days I really am bothered by the changes that God seems intent on making in my way of seeing. It is uncomfortable to say the least.
How so? Recently I posted on my FB a comment about the cost of the death penalty — not just in dollars but in other ways. One affirming respons. Good. And then came one tearful, pained, angry response from a friend who has had 2 family members murdered and is all for the death penalty. This response led to a series of posts, with both of us digging deep. I in no way seek to minimize the pain. I mean no disrespect. I hope she knows that I will stand with her in the pain. I cannot change my stance. Really uncomfortable.
And then yesterday I read about the stupid, senseless shootings in Arizona. Six people dead including a 9 years and a federal judge, and a sitting congresswoman shot in the head. My first reaction was almost nausea. I lit a candle on the TrueMajority website. I wrote a note. I read the AP article. I found myself praying not only for the victims and their families, but also for the young man who committed these heinous acts – praying for a healing of the hurt in him, and in others who are like him — healing before something similar and equally as painful and appalling happens again. I suspect that admission is not going to win me friends and help me influence people.
But, God has not yet met with 100% success. I still harbor anger toward those who foster hateful and divisive rhetoric to advance their politics (not just the real fringies, but the T-Party and way too many Republican politicians, and Ms. Palin, just to name a few.) These are the same folks who cry out for respect for officials while fostering campaigns that encourage folks to “take aim” at others, and do so with visualizations such as gun sights. I’m still having trouble praying for those folks… even though I suppose that come under that umbrella of healing things before another tragedy occurs.
Today’s 2nd reading at mass, reminds us that God is discriminates far less than we do… it reminds us that Jesus, after His baptism, when about healing ALL those oppressed by the devil… if He did that, then, I suppose I must be open to praying for those who perpetuate these senseless crimes and those who perpetuate the attitudes that encourage others to carry out these acts.
Note: the reading is from Acts of the Apostles 10:34-38.
Peter proceeded to speak and said: Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. You know the word (that) he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.