Have you read The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen? I just finished it and I am not reading it again. I want to highlight a few things from this book and hopefully, through some discussion, do some digesting.
To get a quick context, the book is talking about Desert Fathers and Mothers, these are those who gave their lives fully devoted to the Lord as monks and such, hidden away, without an audience, for the majority of their ministry. These Father and Mothers discovered truths about God that can only be learned in solitude and the wilderness of working out your salvation. I really enjoy hearing saints share what they have discovered about God after they've spent a whole lifetime with Him. Truly it enlightens me, as I have just eighteen years with the Lord to date.
The first issue this book brought up for me begins at the end of page 23, under the section entitled, 'The Compulsive Minister".
"Anger in particular seems close to a professional vice in the contemporary ministry. Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following. They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry at those who do come for coming without enthusiasm. They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be..."
He goes on to talk about how Saint Anthony and his fellow monks, dilemma of being faced with the compulsions of the world and not wanting to allow it to cause them to turn bitter and angry is what led them to flee to the desert. I have certainly desired at times to flee to the desert! I can relate! However, this book is suggesting that there is a way to get the connection with God that these men and women found in utter solitude, right here in our modern Christianity.
What I have been digging into in my heart is pretty raw to share actually, but it is really important for me to examine it and digest it in the context. The emotion 'anger' in itself is not bad or wrong. It is a preliminary emotion that requests a response. I have anger rise inside me all the time. For example, one of my children, I am not sure who, has taken my hairbrush. I am in the shower trying to brush out my hair, my brush is no where in reach. I decide to go without it, and after I'm dressed find one. I can't find one in my room or in the kids bathroom. I ask everyone in the house, "do we have a brush I can use anywhere?" Everyone says they cannot find one. As the anger rises, my husband brings me, not my daughters brush, but my brush which he found in her room!!! Deep breath.
In this moment I am angry. What am I angry about? I am angry that my bathroom was not respected and my things were removed from it. I am angry that my daughter didn't see well enough to find it for me, so she made her Dad find it. I am angry that I am not a better parent who taught her eleven year old how to respect her property and find things with two open eyes. I could go on and on. The anger really isn't the problem... yet. No, my problem is if I boil over a couple things could possibly happen. I could start yelling at everyone for how disrespected I feel. I could also start pointing out all the wrong things in everybody and why they make me mad. (Both bad responses so far) Or I could, which I usually do, thank my husband up and down for how much he cares about me to step in and save me from my dilemma.
I don't chose the right response all the time, but what I am trying to do is run away to the desert in my heart for the moments in between the anger coming to my heart and the response of it. Closing my eyes, looking inside my Spirit man, and saying, "Jesus, help me right now." That's all. Seriously, thats where its at. I have not figured anything magical out other than this:
- God made me a human (rather than an angel or other species)
- God gave humans emotions
- Emotions can cause us to act good and bad
- I need to practice using my emotions to act good.
Does that sound deep to you? Man. It's so deep, we dig right past it.
Dear Jesus, I plead for Your mercy once again, and Your loving kindness. May the same love you have for me dwell inside this heart of mine and may I love others with it. In Jesus name. Amen.