Anger

Originally Written 3/20/2016

God is not quick to anger, but still does, so is it still okay to get angry? Does it provide a justification to get angry? What are we supposed to do with that anger?

As he passed in front of Moses, he called out. He said,
“I am the Lord, the Lord.
I am the God who is tender and kind.
I am gracious.
I am slow to get angry.
I am faithful and full of love.

Exodus 34:6

My anger seems to always come in series of trials that come when I am not being tried by my usual 3 or 4 big regular struggles. Recently I was given a great opportunity to not react while someone I loved was yelling and screaming. I was able to hold my temper, and not react until my temper was getting higher and I only moved to get space. Even when things continued to escalate I didn’t react only got away and took a few seconds for them to cool off. When I came back they were no more reasonable, but I was able to stand more until they tired and left me alone to fix the problem. For me this was a big win. Later this week when I wasn’t conforming to their standards and not enough was getting accomplished in their mind they got angry and made more threats. I was able to let it roll off my back and help them to realize they were once again being unreasonable.

My sponsor has explained to me that it comes down to expectations, especially with the people that we love and care most about. We want the best for them and often see where they could be “if they would just…”, we see our side of it and not the whole picture. I often want them to do this or expect them to remember something that I told them that one time. As my sponsor pointed out, we see these people day in and out and we come to depend on them. Sometimes it can scare us to see them struggle, other times it seems like the hundredth time we have told them we don’t like it when… and they never seem to remember so it seems like they are doing something just to make us mad. I have (fortunately enough) found that very rarely is this the case. The more likely case is that they are different from us, don’t think about things the same way and so don’t make the same connections as we do. And so you must give them the patience and when you run out, remember the times that they have loved you, let go, and help them. Just like I would do for a complete stranger, to give them that kind or reset is worth everything, it makes the entire thing go better, and it so often comes back to me in their kindness.

The short version goes to the bible verse, when you realize your getting angry, try to remember the love that you have for the other person. The love that God has for the other person, the love that they have shown to you and show it back to them. Ask yourself if you would be as angry or frustrated if it were a random stranger. It doesn’t always work, but it is what God shows us through his Son, and in eternity.

~JPaul

Praying for My “Enemies”

Recently a friend, in her blog, described a reaction to someone being honest and open about who they used to be. Who they were fell into a category of people that she had “hated”, or thought that she would until now. She was perplexed at the paradox of caring for someone who she knew she should hate given what they had done.

For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is Eternal Life
in Christ Jesus our Lord – Rom 6:23

She came to acceptance by recognizing that God sees all sin as equal, big or little. That God’s grace is unending, all covering, and all forgiving. I commend her for taking the time to struggle with it, because sadly in today’s world so many would rather choose to either; be lazy and hate, or reject the person and continue to hate.

 You have heard that it was said,
‘Love your neighbor. Hate your enemy.’
But here is what I tell you.
Love your enemies.
Pray for those who hurt you.
Matthew 5:43-44

What came to mind was the idea of hate; I have often struggled with it myself. God calls us to love our enemy, when we hate we lose perspective, we forget to love and show compassion.

I know that when I was younger I always pictured my “enemies” as the worst, most vile, evil people imaginable. My “enemy”, my “arch rival”, the “terrorist”. People that are (hopefully) far and away plotting our ruin and demise. I want to make them to be so much worse than they are so that I can hate them and see them as less than a person.

But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness.
They walk around in the darkness.
They don’t know where they are going.
The darkness has made them blind. – 1 John 2:11

To flip the table, how does your enemy see you? Do they EVEN know that they are your enemy? Do they REALLY seek your demise? Your downfall? Your next failure? For the most part (hopefully) the answer is no. Hate is blind, it is not of the Lord and it brings so much more pain where love and healing could be.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
And he said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 1
This is the great and first commandment.
And a second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ 2.
Matthew 22:36-39

Have you ever met a “criminal”? Someone who made a mistake, and got caught? Had things been slightly different could you be a “criminal” now? As is very often the case for people who commit crimes, be they small and petty or large and “unforgivable”, the person who committed them is still a person. A person that may wake up hating who they are, what they have done, who they have become, and who often feels trapped because they are in a life without God. Would their life be better with more love, patience, understanding, acceptance? Whose would NOT?!? These people are broken, in the most need of God’s Grace, His Love, His Understanding, and His Acceptance. So often they continue to spread their brokenness until an outside force causes them to stop.

A person’s wisdom yields patience; 
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. – Prov 19:11 

THIS is what God calls us to do, Love. Love by showing patience, by showing understanding, and by giving acceptance. How do you Love your enemy? The simplest and easiest answer, PRAY. Pray for them, pray with them, pray for God to use you to show this. Pray for an end to blind hatred. Pray for an end to senseless murder. Pray for those caught in human trafficking, both local and abroad. Pray for the victims, but you also NEED to pray for the perpetrators because they are spreading brokenness. Pray for healing. Pray for truth, understanding and compassion, the ENEMIES of HATE!

~ JPaul

Maturity, What is it?

Maturity, is it always being the “adult”, or is it doing the responsible thing, being accountable, being reliable and trustworthy?

Maturity is something that I have always struggled with, I REALLY enjoy being the center of attention, having the greatest story, doing those things that make me “special and unique”. I have always felt that it makes me, “me”. But occasionally I get frustrated when people mistake that fun loving side of me as being “immature”.

Maturity isn’t always behaving like a stuffy buttoned down adult, which is at its core either a very repressed (and in my opinion) a very unhealthy way to live. Maturity by its very definition is to come of age, or reach completeness. I am not, nor will I ever be “complete”.

I struggle with the fact that people have a hard time looking to me as an example because so very often I do my best to show the happy side of life. I have learned i) that most problems are transient and ii) focusing on the problem and not the solution only will make things worse. I very much dislike, that when I struggle to remember either of those things and let it show all over my life I hide. And when I hide I usually will self destruct. I hate that I have this huge desire to either show up and be happy, or not show up because I don’t want to being people down, or let them in.

I say this coming to the realization that the things that frustrate me the most about being treated as immature, being left out, excluded from serious conversations, and not showing people the problems that I have is my own fault. People are very unlikely to share when they don’t feel that they can identify with you or that you possess that element to your personality.

All of this to say that I if you see me playing a silly childish game, and trying to include you, it is possibly because I am avoiding something really hard to deal with or I want you to take a moment, forget the troubles and problems of the world and laugh with me, even for just a moment.