So now I'm back home after all the busyness of the last month. I've been looking forward to PEACE. Of course, now things will pick up again after the Christmas break: Bible study preparations, piano lessons, music responsibilities. Life never slows down entirely.
It's good to be in our cozy home. Today Adam is diagnosing and repairing a faulty outlet in my studio. It showed up first as a bathroom outlet run amok.
I'm very thankful for a helpful and handy husband.
My mind turns lately on the uncertainties of life, on how precious relationships are (especially family ones), and on how we must hold on to each other and forgive each other. It's not easy because people are complicated, families lean toward conflict, and forgiveness is hard. Plus, individuals have their own opinions about how to relate. I find myself repeatedly feeling that we can only muddle on and do our best, which means we make mistakes, which means we must be quick to apologize for ourselves and to forgive each other. Is there any other way? After years of struggling, this seems the best way to me, the way that leads to peace.
Recently I spoke with a friend and we'd both read a book years ago, Heart of Anger, Christian advice about raising children, especially angry, rebellious children. I don't remember the rest of the book much, but one tiny section arrested me and helped me just about more than anything else I've read. I'll post photos of the reading here so I don't have to type it out:
I post this only for those who, like me, struggle with hurt, bitterness, and eventually anger. I'm sure it applies to children too, but it certainly applied to me. I'd been hurt by others in various situations, but I found it nearly impossible to forgive them -- they were Christians who should know they'd behaved wickedly. I wanted apologies and some sort of restitution, a correction of the wrong. That didn't happen, of course, and I was left to deal with my hurt on my own. This is the usual course of events -- the person who wrongs you goes on his merry way and you are left to deal with the fall-out. The writer (Lou Priolo) gives 2 other options in addition to forgiveness, however. I could also decide, after deeper examination, that an offense hadn't really occurred. But beyond that, I could also decide to "overlook the offense." Adam has a great phrase for this act; he tried to teach it to our kids. He'd ask them, when they'd been hurt, "Can you absorb this and let it end with you?" What a cool idea!
I knew I suffered from this track toward bitterness and anger because I could see it in me, the rehearsing of the offenses, the growing anger and how it absorbed my mind. In the end the solution I found that worked best was simply to pray for the people who had hurt me -- to pray specifically and repeatedly for their welfare, for God to bless all the aspects of their lives. Nothing poured cold water on the fire of my anger more effectively than that praying.
Both praying for the people who've hurt me, and deciding to overlook their offenses -- to let it go, are acts of generosity and kindness on my part that defuse the damaging effects of bitterness. They bring healing and peace to my soul. And peace is what I want.
I first read this book and learned this method about 15 years ago. It was effective in immediately ridding me of bitterness and anger from past wrongs, and has become more effective as I've used it since then.
I also realized about a year ago that when I see anger in other people, often the true emotion they're feeling is fear. It's only outwardly manifested as anger. This makes me feel compassionate toward them in their fear, rather than reciprocating their anger with anger. It's also worth asking myself: When I'm angry, am I actually just afraid? What am I afraid of? Why?
I wish I'd known this when my children were young, especially in their teens. Teenagers vent lots of anger, but if the root of that anger is actually fear, there may be something a parent can do to mitigate that fear. Children don't like to share their fears; they keep them hidden. But they share their anger quickly. This might be a useful diagnostic if you need to discover why your child is angry.
I'm rambling a bit. Next time ... hopefully .. when the electrical repairs are complete and I have a full, quiet day in my studio (and the heater is back on!), I'll post more creative things. Till then --