Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Peace That Passes Understanding (I need it)

I reached the tipping point of temporary insanity on Thursday. I was so miserable and so completely at the mercy of my own intense self-dislike. And I spread the misery around. I couldn't contain myself.

In general my emotions rule me, even my petty ones. I am not a bottler, not a successful one, because when I try to restrain my emotions, they usually end up popping the cork and fizzing out everywhere - over others. And it's true I have always held it was better to be open than to be reserved. It was always best to debate and converse with conviction - to share your opinions - than to talk little, be the really quiet sort who seems to have no opinion at all.

In short, being passionate was always preferable to showing restraint.

Having read a few stories of various saints, however, it seems to be a common theme with these peace-seeking folks that they try very hard to restrain their emotions, to avoid stating their case when they feel they are wronged or misunderstood. They aim to be placid, unflappable. They understand that God knows and sees everything, and they have confidence in His mercy. Being at the sway of their passions is contrary to their hope.

I meditated recently on the crowning with thorns. When the Roman soldiers shoved that crown of on Jesus' head, hailed him irreverently as King of the Jews, and then mocked him, spitting on him, Jesus said nothing. He took it all.

It suddenly hit me as I reflected on this, how extreme Jesus' humility was. He said nothing, not a You're going to get yours! or a simple, authoritarian Do you know to whom you are speaking?

Some could argue that he would have been in too much pain to care. No. He pronounced, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," while hanging on the cross. He was able to speak those words of love and mercy during the climax of his torture. He chose not to curse his tormentors even then.

So we are back at humility, and humility takes a strange - alien to many of us - kind of confidence, as my blogger acquaintance Jennie points out in this post on injustice.

Jesus Himself, the Word of God, spoke of himself like this:

"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-burdened. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I need that lighter burden in a very specific way. Emotional fortification is what I need. I am sick of trying to labor on my own against my own petty, overly-zealous feelings and selfishness. I am tired of always "needing to get my feelings out" in fruitless complaints, even when I know it will cause others distress, especially those dearest to me. Often I am just a big baby, but I can't seem to conquer this on my own.

In the words of gospel singer Keith Green: I want to, I need to be more like Jesus.

That begins with asking for his help.

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