Archive for the ‘anger’ Category

Overcoming emotion before it takes over – a followup

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

You may recall in a previous post the story I shared about how anger and aggravation overcame me beginning with the task of vacuuming the pool. I shared that story with my spiritual mother who advised me to say the Jesus Prayer before I begin, and during the task. It worked like a charm! I vacuumed the pool yesterday and the prayer lifted me outside of myself so that I could remain peaceful throughout the task. It had all the elements of being just as aggravating as the last time, but this time I was armed with prayer. Yet another lesson in the idea of detaching from emotion through prayer.

You would think I would then immediately apply prayer to any other time when emotion would overtake me but I still have a long way to go with this lesson. Letting go of aggravation and anger was easy in comparison to letting go of grief and self-pity.

Holidays lately have been a little difficult. I still haven’t grown totally into the empty nester role and therefore miss the kids terribly. I grieved the loss of our family together over the 4th of July holiday. Add to that a dose of self-pity because our efforts to go kayaking were thwarted yet again, this time by my husband’s back pain. I felt very badly for him, but felt sorry for myself too.

It took all weekend to turn to prayer but I finally did as I waited for a fireworks display. I had asked my husband if I could go and he said that was fine. I went and found myself feeling especially lonely and nostalgic for past days when we would go as a family. Seeing other families around me just added to the pain. I felt totally alone, until I realized I wasn’t ever alone – God was with me if I would just call on Him.

I began with the Jesus Prayer and quickly turned to the rosary. At first I looked up at the sky, thinking of heaven. Then I turned my gaze on all the people around me, asking God to bless them, and I began to see Christ in all of them. The feelings of loneliness, grief and self-pity slowly began to dissipate as I became aware of the presence of my very best Friend, the one who will never leave me, deep in my heart, and all around me too in those people.

The fireworks display seemed extra lively and bright now that I felt surrounded by friends. Maybe next time I won’t wait so long!

Reading between the lines regarding detachment

Monday, June 27th, 2011

I have just begun a book that will mostly likely be my summer companion. It’s called Fire Within by Thomas Dubay, SM. It’s a thick volume with densely packed type on an intense subject: contemplative prayer, based upon the writings and lives of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. Happily this book was also available as an eBook which I promptly downloaded onto my ipod. Because I can adjust the size of the type, somehow the book seems less intimidating. :-)

The need for contemplative prayer

I could not have read this book even 6 months ago. Contemplative prayer demands a surrendered life and had God not prepared me with The Prayer of Mary: Leading a Surrendered Life, I could not have handled this book. It was recommended to me by a confessor (thank you Fr. Moe!) after he listened to me talk about the fear that permeated my life. He knew I needed to surrender my life and tap into the power of contemplative prayer.

Learning to detach

I haven’t even gotten into the “guts” of the book yet but I know I’m going to have to learn how to detach. It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll detach from my possessions, from money, from the desire to have my own way, ” etc., etc. But I’m finding it’s more than that. I have to detach from my family, my friends, my interests, ambitions, desires, and especially my feelings. For example, I’ve known for a while that I need to detach from my grown children. A reminder today from my daughter and her “I really want to strike out on my own and not be tied to my parents all the time” attitude told me to back off and give her the space she wants until this time passes. I remember feeling that way at her age and it does pass eventually. She’s an adult now and I must let her go.

Feelings can do you in

Then there are those feelings that come up over matters so trivial yet they can have a profound affect on my attitude. My weakness is aggravation and the Enemy knows it. I have a wicked temper and he knows just how to set it off. Until recently I used to believe it didn’t matter if I spouted off when I got angry so long as I did it privately but I learned from God that in fact this was not so (see previous post, The Value of Self Control). It builds a thick barrier between myself and the Spirit, and I find it hard to pray or to love, and it sure snuffs out joy and patience!

So what got me so mad? Ever tried vacuuming a pool? We have an above-ground pool and the vacuum consists of the head (which does the scrubbing and vacuuming), a long pole that the head is connected to, and a very long hose that is connected to the pump. When vacuuming goes smoothly, I rather enjoy it as I love doing anything with water. BUT, when it goes wrong as it did yesterday, it can be an extremely frustrating task. That vacuum thought of every way to possible to malfunction in the form of detaching the hose from the pump, or the head from the pole, or the hose from the head. It must have happened in one shape or form about a dozen times and I was beside myself with aggravation by the time the job was done. Needless to say, my self control went right out the window!

The anger grows . . .

Anger like that lasts and builds on itself. Later on in the day while preparing dinner for my son and his new girlfriend, the microwave kept tripping the circuit breaker. Somehow I got the potatoes to cook but not without a lot of aggravation.

Prayer to the rescue!

When this cycle continued into this morning I knew I was under attack from the Enemy. This is actually the first time that I’ve ever recognized an extended period of aggravation as an attack and I applied the one foolproof defense against it: prayer. I prayed the rosary this morning to try and prepare my heart to hear the scriptures, and then listened to the readings of the day. The first reading from Genesis, chapter 18, verses 16-33 recounted Abraham’s petitioning to the Lord to not exact punishment on Sodom and Gomorrah if there were just a handful of innocent people. The psalm’s response, “The Lord is kind and merciful,” summed it up perfectly. And in reflecting on that thought of being kind and merciful, how could I possibly be either with all this anger inside, especially over such stupid stuff?

I entered into a quiet space with the Lord and relayed my desire to let go of this anger and knock down the barrier it created. I found myself sitting next to Jesus on a dock, and my ankle had a chain around it. The chain was connected to a large barge. With Jesus’ help, I unlocked the chain and we both pushed the barge away with our feet and watched it slowly sail down the river and out of sight. Just as slowly my peace returned and I felt the anger dissipate. And I am happy to report, the attack has ended.

I can see that I have much to learn about detachment!  As in all things in the Christian life, there is so much more in between the lines.

A prayer of surrender

Here’s a wonderful prayer of surrender courtesy of The Catholic Spiritual Direction blog:

Loving Father,

I surrender to you today with all my heart and soul. Please come into my heart in a deeper way. I say, “Yes” to you today. I open all the secret places of my heart to you and say, “Come on in.” Jesus, you are the Lord of my whole life. I believe in you and receive you as my Lord and Savior. I hold nothing back.

Holy Spirit, bring me to a deeper conversion to the person of Jesus Christ. I surrender all to you: my time, my treasures, my talents, my health, my family, my resources, my work, relationships, time management, successes and failures. I release it and let it go.

I surrender my understanding of how things ‘ought’ to be, my choices and my will. I surrender to you the promises I have kept and the promises I have failed to keep. I surrender my weaknesses and strengths to you. I surrender my emotions, my fears, my insecurities, my sexuality. I especially surrender ______ (Here mention other areas of surrender as the Holy Spirit reveals them to you.)

Lord, I surrender my whole life to you, the past, the present, and the future. In sickness and in health, in life and in death, I belong to you. (Remain the Lord in a spirit of silence through your thoughts, a heart song, or simply staying in His presence and listening for His voice.)

I encourage you to read more on this wonderful site – the  Catholic Spiritual Direction Blog.

The value of self-control

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been told that I have no self-control. I’ve always had a temper, fueled oftentimes by my older brother’s relentless teasing. He’d know just what hot button to push that would send me into a tantrum, screaming at the top of my lungs out of frustration. I had quite a reputation in the neighborhood and I lost my voice so often my mother took me to the doctor for treatment.

In first grade, my teacher wrote on my report card that I had a problem with self-control.

As I got older, that temper that would flare out in tantrums turned inward, causing bouts of melancholy and depression.

Age does have its benefits, one of them being that my hot temper has cooled somewhat. But aggravation is the surest hot button that sets up off, such as trying to clean mold with a potent cleaner and a toothbrush from my bathroom ceiling. The temper flared and the ranting began, loud enough such that my own family complained!

I’m a very vocal person in that I talk to myself all the time. Yes, I’m one of those nuts you see driving down the highway, mouth yapping and arms flailing as I work out a thought or emotion. When I get angry, I especially work out my feelings in that way. I never thought it would do harm to myself or anyone else. After all, I was just letting off steam.

Then, a few months ago, I got a hold of the new Confession app. This app leads you through the preparation necessary to make a good confession by guiding you through the 10 Commandments. It also has a place where you can add a customized list of sins. It was here that God first began to speak to me about my lack of self-control (aka, Venting): He prompted me to add the following: “Do I lose my self-control and give in to angry venting?”

I wasn’t really sure why I added it to my list, I just knew I was prone to it. I figured maybe it wasn’t good for me to be doing it though I didn’t really know why. Today, I finally figured it out.

Remember that bathroom I told you about and the ranting that went on with trying to clean it? That was Saturday. Today (Wednesday) I found myself in a funk; in fact, I had been in one all week. And I was spoiling for a fight wherever I could find one. It was almost like I was inviting aggravation to come to me so I could rant about it!

I also felt very distant from Jesus, like a wall had been erected between us.

I already was feeling vulnerable because my mother’s anniversary of her passing is next Friday (April 22) and I’ve started reliving those terrible weeks up to the day she died. satan (not a typo, I will never initial cap his name) saw an opportunity and took advantage of it, deceiving me into thinking that it was perfectly alright to dig into my anger and let it all out.

I was hurting myself, flooding myself with negative thoughts and feelings. It caused me to be irritable with my husband, children and even the cats. And it finally overwhelmed me yesterday such that I called the home bound woman I take communion to and told her I couldn’t make it. I didn’t want to be seen feeling the way I felt and I had lost the desire to put on a happy face.

That’s when I realized that my lack of self-control was not okay. I not only hurt myself with a tidal wave of negativity, I hurt someone else, someone who needed me.

So this morning I turned to the Lord and told Him everything that I was feeling and begged forgiveness for allowing my selfish need to vent to hurt others. I could feel Him drawing me near, offering me forgiveness, and telling me just to “be.” He would remove all the ugliness that was my anger and frustration. And slowly, throughout the day, I have felt that “crud” lifting off of me.

Now I know how important it is to stop and think before losing my self-control. That sin that I added to my Confession app list was meant to be there and will now remind me every time I feel the temptation to vent.

I am grateful to God that He has revealed this truth to me for my anger has plagued me all my life. Indeed, nothing is impossible for God!