Sunday, June 14, 2009

Abi and Anger....

Anger continues to be something that I find is not well processed -- in the world, generally, and by Christ-followers, specifically. I struggle with it because I grew up believing that I was not allowed to be angry about things that I could not control.

I have come to understand, over the past 25 years, that anger is an emotion. And, as an emotion, it is morally neutral. We are angry because we are having an emotional response to something we have experienced. This is just the way we have been wired. It provides us with the opportunity to act out cHesed by responding in such a way as for the best interest of "the other" to be served.

Exactly who do I mean by "the other"?

Well, sometimes, the other is God. But more often than not, the other is my neighbor -- whether that be a brother or sister in Christ or any human in close proximity to me. Someone whom I intersect with in an experience that was not just, not loving or kind, not humble -- pretty much the opposite of Micah 6:8!

But just like all the other emotions, we are called to be restrained in our response -- lest our reaction cause us to sin -- to break covenant -- against God or Others.

I was smacked pretty hard with the whole restraint thing lately. I talk a good story about restraint being a foundational aspect of God's character. I'm just so very thankful that They are so much better at doing it than I am!

So far to go on this path....

I have, however, begun the journey from the dark side of love back to the light. How does the saying go? The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step?

One of the challenges of living the Purple Martyrdom is the ever-tempting thought that suffering or pain or sickness or frustration or exhaustion can ever excuse a response to anger that breaks covenant. It can help to explain it ... but not excuse. Sorry.

Anger that leads to sin can only be confessed, repented of, asked forgiveness for, reconciled and restored ... and that is a relational challenge that too often eludes many of us ... or, at least, this wee purple abbess.

So, I've been reading a book that is challenging me to rethink my situation. Or, rather, really think it through. For those of you who have been with me for a while, you will know how important the books on the Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman have been. Well this book on anger is one he has written to answer the many questions he's received over the years about how to handle it in a healthy way. (It is basically an updated version of the previous book.)

As with all issues of thinking clearly, this book requires that we take a look at the terms and the assumptions and ponder the difference between good and bad anger before we even get down to how to manage a proper response. Indeed, I really like this definition on page 23:

God's purpose in human anger ... is ... to motivate us to take positive action when we encounter injustice.

Abi will, consequently, be processing here what she is, er, processing about anger as she reads this book and allows the Holy Spirit to transform her broken, purple, angry heart into one that keeps -- rather than breaks -- covenant.

...and purple glasses will be required for reading, of course!


Blind Beggar in Need of Prayer!

Just in case any of you have not already heard about our fellow Seabeck blogger and MT Instigator, Rick Meigs, please read Brother Maynard's post about his motorcycle accident on Saturday.

He is currently in stable yet critical condition in Boise, ID. Broken right arm and collarbone and a few ribs on the mend; ruptured spleen removed, liver looking okay; punctured lung still requiring ventilator; no brain or spinal column damage detected.

Lord, have mercy on our dear brother ... be near to him and his family ... touch them all with your love and grace and mercy -- healing body, mind and spirit.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thinking is Mandatory!

Sorry, friends ... but we have minds so that we can think. There are many of us so that we can sharpen each other's thinking through a variety of methods. Even if we do not know as much as someone else, we are still required to process what we do know to the very best of our feeble ability. We are to ask questions ... always. We are to questions answers ... always. We are to challenge that doesn't make sense ... always.

God is not afraid of our questions ... but some of his self-appointed "handlers" are. Jesus said not to worry about what they think ... worry about what God thinks!

Thinking is difficult because it is a complex process and requires a lot of effort if it is to be done well. There's the rub, eh? M. Scott Peck, in his book The Road Less Traveled & Beyond, begins with a chapter on Thinking. It is worth the price of the book by itself! He claims that all problems are a result of failure to think well.

A few highlights ...

The common errors Peck says are related to the failure to think well:
  • simply not thinking
  • making assumptions in thinking--through the use of one-dimentional logic, stereotypes, and labeling.
  • the belief that thinking and communicating don't require much effort
  • assuming that thinking is a waste of time (as if quick action without thought is better)
His section of chapter one titled "The Point of Having a Brain" has some more important, er, points I'll paraphrase or quote:
  • the frontal lobe of the brain is involved in our ability to make judgments, and it is here that the processing of information--thinking--primarily take place
  • when dependency needs and feelings rule our lives, the root is a disorder related to thinking--specifically, a resistance to thinking for ourselves
  • "...there are profound ways in which society actually discourages us from using our frontal lobes, promoting one-dimensional, simplistic thinking as the normal way of functioning."
  • institutions (family, church, mass media), in their failure to teach or demonstrate how to think well, set people up for thinking simplistically
  • when institutions are seen as modeling good thinking and truth, they have the power to fool and manipulate -- setting forth cultural norms as assumed normal and correct, when they discourage our growth because they are often based on half-truths as well as outright lies ... the biggest lie being that we have the right to be happy all of the time.
Skipping a few sections (not because they aren't good...) to "Common Criminal Thinking" brings these gems:
  • most common criminal thinking is simplistic and one-dimensional
  • those who always see themselves as victims do not take responsibility for their choices
  • living primarily in the present (poor perspective on time) lends them to not consider the future or the consequences of their actions
  • an extreme sense of entitlement that is cocky (often from inferiority complex) leads to justifying violating other people or their property without regard for their rights
  • the sense of entitlement that arises from superiority complex assumes they should always be first and are due anything they want -- even if it means taking it from others
...and that doesn't leave many of us too far from turning criminal, does it? Only by the grace of God, says I!

* * * * * * *

One thing that wasn't really known at the time Peck wrote this book: the frontal lobe is not fully connected neurologically until the early to mid 20s -- especially for males. BUMMER for this mom of the boys! The "can I?" doesn't align with the "should I?" for much longer than many want to believe. I repeat myself: BUMMER!

This fact makes me want to raise the age of adult accountability (and with it voting, driving, and drinking) to at least 21 years! Let more of the young people take public transit or ride their bikes during high school and college.... Require them to learn to think well before being able to vote (not sure what to do the with over 21 folks who won't learn to think well, but at least the next generation will be farther along that road less traveled, eh?) ... and before they have killed off too many of their brain cells with alcohol!

This would also increase the age for joining the armed forces, which is also a good thing! Of course, thinking for yourself isn't exactly encouraged in the rank and file of the armed forces ... maybe that is part of the problem?

Okay, don't get me too riled up!

* * * * * * *

Well ... that's just scratching the surface -- and challenging me to take the time to read this chapter again. You should find this book and read it for yourselves, you know. Because waiting for me to do your thinking is not good for you!

And those folks who talk about tolerance all the time need to remember that part of tolerance is being patient when you don't get your own way all the time. Just had that discussion with my 10 year old this morning, as he was reading the chapter on Tolerance in our well-worn book, The Family Virtues Guide: Simple Ways to Bring Out the Best in Our Children and Ourselves.

Abi says you should get this book ... it is priceless!

* * * * * * *

Thanks to Jonathan and Bill for making me go back and get Peck's book off the self ... and rant about it here.