Category Archives: anger

To Pray Without Ceasing

I went into the weekend unsure of what God was calling me to do. I knew that my leading was to spend a weekend with Rob’s sister (who I’ll refer to as C from now on) and her husband (D), presumably because they’re going through some rough times and could use our support, but I was not sure what I would be called to do when we arrived there. Surely following the leading wasn’t as simple as just sleeping in her house for 2 nights. I resolved to try to be open and receptive to that still, small voice at all times, to be able to discern His will at any given moment.

Maintaining a constant state of open prayer is vital, not only for some days of greater importance, but for all days — no matter how unimportant they appear. Sometimes keeping the gates of my being open for Him is remarkably easy, as if it were just part of my nature. At other times, though, my self (and in particular my pride) rears up, threatening to not only close the gate, but bar it shut.

One of those moments happened late Saturday evening, while the four of us were heading back to her house after dining out. We’d had a suspringly pleasant visit up to that point: C belly danced with me while our husbands went out and even asked to see more videos of what it looked like; Friday evening we’d had a nice dinner out (their treat) with even some enjoyable conversation. But by Saturday evening, I was beginning to worry that I hadn’t done whatever it was I had been called to do.

C had had a bit to drink with dinner, and thus was both more open and more frank than usual. About a month ago, I had come up with the idea of a book exchange between her and me. We’d each give each one book, with the promise that we’d read it in its entirety. The goal of this exchange would be to foster understanding between us, especially with regards to our faiths and how they were similar and different. Before I could stop myself, the suggestion was out of my mouth. She agreed.

Then I went on to explain that I thought it’d be important for us to do this with the goal of furthering understanding and not to convert each other. She replied with something like, “If I knew to the core of my being that I was right and that you were doomed to suffer for eternity, would I be wrong to try to save you from that?” If I were a cat, that moment would have been when all the hairs on my body stood straight up and I braced for an all-out attack.

I tried desperately to calm myself, to still myself, and prayed earnestly for God to guide me, because I didn’t want to mess this up by a rash retort. Noting my silence, she broke it by asking, “T, you’re being awfully quiet.” I replied honestly by saying, “I’m praying.” She silenced herself while I waited for God’s will to be made manifest in me. Finally, I responded and said, “C, as long as we’re both open, I think this can still work.” Too quickly, she replied, “I’m open.”

I have my doubts about how open she is, but I can only follow where He’s leading me. Later that evening, curled up in bed, I reflected about the weekend with Rob. I shared my worry with him that maybe I hadn’t done what I was supposed to do. He told me frankly that he didn’t think anything would be gained from the book exchange I’d proposed with his sister, that she certainly wasn’t open and had very set ideas of what a Christian was supposed to be. I wholeheartedly agreed with him, but added that I wasn’t following my will on this, but God’s. I asked Rob if he thought I was a Christian. I’ve asked him this previously, and he’s always dodged the question or said that he didn’t know. I was pleasantly surprised when he said that he thought I was. I pressed him for the reasons why he thought I was, so I could later share them with his sister, and he was unable to answer.

The next morning C gave me Lori Wick’s “Pretense” as the first book for our book exchange (see my livejournal for details about what book I’m going to give to her). Rob and I left early to attend a Meeting for Worship in Charlottesville (over an hour away, but on our way home) with my friend Elliot (the same friend to whom I had trouble explaining Quakerism a couple of weeks ago). After such a charged, challenging weekend, the Meeting for Worship was rejuvenating. I was pleased to see that the group of worshippers was younger than in my own Meeting, with a median age perhaps of 40, perhaps younger. I wasn’t able to center as well as I can in my own Meeting, and exhaustion certainly wasn’t helping, but it was still nice to have the entire hour to pray in silence.

I wish I could say that since the weekend has ended I’ve become certain that I did whatever it was that I’d been called to do, but I’m not. I’m starting to feel certain that visiting C for a weekend was just the first step in this leading instead of the only step. Though I’m paying for the weekend physically, I’m grateful I followed the leading. I don’t know if a gate has been opened between me and C that will allow us to be closer, but I do know that the weekend brought me both closer to God and to Rob.

Rob’s support of my faith these past couple of months has been remarkable. It would have been easy for him to flat-out refuse to visit his sister, God calling me or not (and without Rob, it would have been very, very difficult for me to visit C… and to make it through the weekend grounded in God). He could have laughed when I told him about my leadings, instead of taking them seriously. He could have gone along with it half-heartedly instead of going out of his way to be nice to both C and D, neither of whom he particularly likes or whose company he enjoys.

I am grateful to God, for giving me this leading and for sharing His will with me. And I am also grateful to Rob, for supporting my faith unconditionally.

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Filed under anger, christians, different faiths, discernment, faith, God, in-laws, leadings, love, obedience, prayer, speak and listen with love, submission

That of God… in Ann Coulter?

When I started this blog, I didn’t want to bring politics into it. But this morning I received an email from John Edwards’s campaign about something Ann Coulter had said about Edwards yesterday. I was mildly interested, so I searched out the video on YouTube…

Politics have nothing to do with this. It doesn’t matter that the person she used that word in respect to was Edwards or that she was speaking to fellow Conservatives. What matters is the insult she used and that people actually applauded.

As Quakers, we’re supposed to “walk cheerfully along the Earth, responding to that of God in every one” (approximate quote). How can we respond to such blatant hatred as this? How can we seek that of God in Ann Coulter? How can I accept Ann Coulter as one of God’s children when she seems to have no redeeming quality whatsoever and is so hateful? How can we respond to the audience members who applauded, who might be family (or in-laws) or strangers?

Do we respond to this? Or do we chalk it up to politics and let the audience continue laughing?

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Filed under anger, lgbt issues, politics, quakerism, speak and listen with love

Compassion

I’m currently reading a lot about compassion in Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, by Thich Nhat Hanh. His basic premise, which I agree with, is that the only way to truly deal with anger is by feeling compassion for the one you’re angry with. I’ve been kind of shrugging this book off as “stuff I know and do already”, as I’ve always prided myself on my compassion and my empathy towards others. And, in a way, my reaction towards my anger towards my sister-in-law 10 days ago cemented my pride in how I deal with anger and how compassionate I am.

This morning I had a dream that upset me so much that I could barely stay asleep; and after my husband left to go to work and I went back to bed, I slept fitfully for another 3 hours before giving up. The dream was simple: my husband’s company was transferring him to work in an office several states away for several months. Since it was temporary, I’d be staying in our house and he would get an apartment. When he told me, I was angry. “How can you leave me by myself,” I asked him. I used every excuse I could think of to get him to turn down the assignment and stay with me. The thought of him not being with me every day for months on end terrified me and I felt like crying in horror.

Finally, I gave up and called a dear friend of mine. She told me that he had been worried about how to break the news to me because he knew I’d be upset. And I suddenly felt bad because all this time I’d be worried about how I’d deal on my own and hadn’t recognized that he also would be suffering.

When I woke up, I was relieved to see that the dream wasn’t true (though I asked my husband, just to be sure), but it stuck with me anyways. And I thought about the friend I had called in the dream, whose husband is currently overseas in the Army. I realized with a shock that what I had been so scared of in the dream was what she was going through right now.

I don’t know how she does it. I don’t think I could. But I hope that, the next time I talk to her, I’ll be a better friend to her than I have been.

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Reborn

The act of forgiveness is itself a change of heart or change of mind. When we forgive, we go from anger, resentment, or disapproval to a state of peace, love, and non-judgment. Similarly, we are “reborn” in Jesus because we can then change our hearts, putting aside our fears and sorrows and regaining the faith and innocence of a child.

from here.

Wednesday was a very hard day for me. I am not quick to anger, and it had been a very long time since I had felt the kind of quiet rage that surrounded me that day. It had been so long, in fact, that I had forgotten what quiet rage felt like: when anger is so overwhelmingly that you can’t even think and screaming and other explosions are completely out of the question. Quiet rage is the closest I’ve ever come to hating someone… when I am so angry that I look at that person and can see nothing good in them at all.

Wednesday was the first time I’d felt this rage as a convinced Quaker. My reaction to it was, thus, quite different this time. I tried to still myself, not to swallow the rage or shelve it, but still myself enough so that I could try, desperately to listen for God’s voice within me. For the first hour or so, I was so furious that my body was shaking. Inner stillness was even farther away than outer as my mind reeled from my sister-in-law’s unwarranted attack upon almost everything I loved and was proud of.

I called a dear friend of mine who’s agreed to be my spiritual companion (and I hers) and spilled my soul to her over the phone. She helped me focus, and while most of the conversation was about the practical matter of what my reaction to my SIL should be, the foundation of the conversation was God’s love. As angry as I was, I wanted to respond to my SIL with love, and Meghan encouraged this. I tried to put myself in my SIL’s shoes, to understand what caused her to say what she had said. In the back of my mind was a Buddhist idea I’d absorbed from the current Quaker book I’m reading (“The Barn at the End of the World”) that anger usually comes from an idea being attacked. The idea that my SIL had attacked in me was pride. Everything she had insulted was something that I was proud of: my marriage, my college education, my family, my faith. By offending the things I’m most proud of, I felt that she had no respect for me as a person.

By the end of the phone call, I was no longer shaking. I was deeply hurt and disappointed that my SIL would have thought such things about me. But I was no longer angry at her. The quiet fury had dissolved. Shortly after that, I decided to go swimming, as this was something my body needed and I enjoy the peacefulness of swimming. I often use the time in the water as a time for prayer.

While I swam, I struggled to find that of God in my SIL. I struggled to think of one good thing about her. In the end, I was only able to think of two. Her faith, while unquestioned, is clearly defined. She can tell someone exactly what it is she believes. (This inspired me to do my own Statement of Faith on Thursday.) The second is the job she chose, to be a nurse. She spends her days making a profound difference in the lives of her patients, and I admire her for doing something everyday that helps someone else. (Can I say the same about myself?)

From the numerous discussions I had with friends online that day, the general consensus had been that my husband should be the one to approach my SIL and not me, as she was more likely to listen to him. It was hard for me to wait until he got home that evening to have this problem “dealt with”, but the additional time gave me more time to pray.

While finding my SIL’s comment prevented me from accomplishing all that I wanted to accomplish that day, she gave me a great gift by offending me. I spent more time praying and communing with God on Wednesday than I have perhaps ever before. The disquiet in my soul that has been plaguing me for weeks is gone.

My SIL, though unintentionally, has given me the greatest gift that can be given: she has shown me how to be with God, how to need Him, and how to listen to my own Light within.

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Filed under anger, God, Holy Spirit, in-laws, Jesus, obedience, quakerism, speak and listen with love, submission

Anger.

I’ve recently stumbled across something my sister-in-law wrote online about me while googling my full name. Continue reading

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Filed under anger, different faiths, in-laws, speak and listen with love