Friday, September 18, 2009

Anguish, Torment, Pain, Blackness

Where to begin? A disclaimer seems to be in order.

Disclaimer: this post is not going to be cheerful, pleasant or "nice", it's about some problems I'm experiencing right now. So if you're looking for something of a "sunny nature", pass this one by.

Next a prayer seems in order.

Dear Lord, please guide me so that my words offer some relief from my, largely self-imposed, anguish and at the same time not speak out of turn, or harm anyone.

I've been experiencing numerous trials that have been chipping away at the armor with which I've surrounded myself. The armor I rely on to protect myself from angry thoughts, angry feelings, blackness and, in general, attacks by the forces of evil.

Little things like being upset with someone's behavior. Something breaking. (like my desktop computer at work.) Financial stress. (car needing unexpected repairs to pass inspection.) Being in close proximity to other people for too long (I cherish occasional "alone-ness" and sometimes wonder if I could live in a solitary commune.) General physical stress from working too many hours, too little sleep, too little time spent at home. And then, a very close friend and co-worker makes, in my opinion, a bad mistake that will have unpleasant repercussions if I'm correct. I pray that I'm wrong.

Several of these caused anger, in one case extreme anger, that wouldn't have been extreme if not for the preceding issues. Immediately, 2 recent lectionary readings and their related sermons came to mind.

August 9, Ephesians 4:26-27, NLT

26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”[a] Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

September 13, James 3:1-12

1 Dear brothers and sisters,[a] not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.[b]

7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? 12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.[c]

But, I wasn't then, nor am I now in a position to discuss the anger without hurting others.

So, (in the manner of Rob Bell), what do I do? hold my tongue and let the sun go down on my anger? or explode and hurt others but sleep without anger? what do I do? what do I do? WHAT DO I DO? Unfortunately, I can't answer that. Perhaps there isn't an answer, maybe that's one of those "chicken or egg" questions?

Taken individually, none of the problems caused much damage. But, I've not asked God, sincerely, to help deflect them and to repair my armor, my faith. It's a continual problem I encounter. I've known since childhood that "my" verses are Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

I try to deal with, and "fix" things myself. When I'm able to force myself to abide by these verses I do very well, or more correctly, allow God to guide my path. When I fight and flail, I suffer. This time it's pretty bad, it's dark and painful. Deep. Black. Cold.

When I get like this my anger controls me, I cling to it, embrace it, and internalize it. If I could harness the energy of the anger, the way fright was harnessed in Monsters Inc, the world energy problems would be over! It tends to be a vicious spiral, anger, temptation, failure, internalize, anger, temptation, failure, internalize, etc. Meanwhile, the armor is breached and the forces of evil are wreaking havoc on my soul.

The best way that I've found to deal with it is, obviously cry out to God for help. But sometimes my cries don't seem to be effective. Am I not sincere? is God not done teaching me? have I not become desparate enough to receive His grace? That is one of the answers I read in Prayer by Ole Hallesby, sometimes we need to be helpless, our attitude of heart needs to be helpless before we can pray effectively. It's painful, very painful. And I know I'm not pleasant to be around, I'm short-tempered, moody and, in general, a real pain in the ass.

Maybe this is the perfect time to remove my self from the presence of others and retreat to a "hermitage", even if it's a quiet walk in the woods to sit beside a stream and read the Bible, pray and pour out my anguish to God. Problem is, when you have committments 7 days a week, when do you retreat?

Father, Abba please hear my cries and release me from my anguish and blackness, grant me the wisdom to trust in You and to allow you to lead my life once again, grant me the grace to be more bearable to others, and grant me the wisdom to remove myself, if needed, from the presence of others to effect the healing needed in my soul.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now and be forever. Amen.

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