For the last 8 months I’ve been fighting internal anger towards two people. Since mid-March, I had not prayed nor read anything remotely spiritual. When I would start to read, the content just rolled right past my eyes and never made it to my brain! I would toss the book aside in disgust. I knew that the anger I was harboring, and truth be told – fostering, was blocking my ability to pray. The bickering in my mind was constant and wearying. It is a lot of work to be angry.
I saw a link to Met. Jonah’s podcast on a Facebook friend’s wall and filed it in the back of my mind. It took some effort to find it last week but I did, here “Do not react. Do not resent. Keep inner stillness.” I’ve only listened to Part I but am very glad I did. It has helped me a lot, bringing to mind what needs to be confessed when I see my spiritual father.
What really rang a gong were these thoughts of Met. Jonah’s:
- That resentment comes from remembrance of wrongs.
- A “passion” is an area of life that is out of control that I experience passively. Thoughts that immediately start flooding our minds.
- To judge someone is to freeze the image of the person in our mind and label them; allowing ourselves to be controlled by this conceptual image; to cede our mind and our life to the conceptual image we created. We become a slave to our own thoughts. The internal conversation we have with the conceptual image of the person who hurt me is nothing more than a fantasy conversation. It is a delusion. It is prelest. It is a conversation with our own inner demon! We are conversing with judgmentalness. We are reacting, literally, to a figment of our imagination!
The last bullet point really struck me hard. How often I have played over and over in my mind past conversations, past decisions made by the person with whom I am angry. No sooner I’d reach the end of the memory than I’d rewind and replay which only made me angrier and angrier.
Met. Jonah went on to explain that we need to separate the other person’s action from our reaction. Basically to “untangle his and my sin.” Ouch, that one hurt. You mean to tell me that: a.) my reaction, and anger, isn’t justified?; and b.) I sinned in this equation? Pray tell, where? Leave it to Met. Jonah to point it out to me. Geesh.
He went on to say that my
“reaction is still my own….and [I] must take responsibility for it. Let go of the self-justification.”
There he goes again!
“If we hold on to our resentments and self-justification, then we cannot pray the Lord’s Prayer…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others who trespass against us.”
“The biggest building block of ego is resentment, which comes from the remembrance of wrongs.”
Okay, now he’s moved on to meddling! However, he also provided a solution!
“Dealing with our own resentment is to get out of the victim mode and control our thoughts. It means to forgive. If we don’t, we are slaves to our own thoughts rather than being freed by forgiveness. “
As I understood what His Grace said, it is that my reaction to whatever it was that the other person did to hurt me, is still MY own and I must take responsibility for it. I am saying ‘no thanks’ to God when I hang on to my resentment. He then explained what forgiveness looks like.
“Look at the situation. Untangle your sins from their sins. Take responsibility for your sins and confess them. Then you will be able to see the other as a person; not the conceptual image you have in your mind but the person who is broken. But it does not mean that you have to restore the relationship with the person that hurt you. You only need to forgive. The criterion of our love of god is how much we love the person we despise the most.”
His Grace said that confessing the same sin over and over again is good because each time we confess a different part or aspect of the sin. That made me feel better actually because my poor spiritual father hears the same thing just about every time I confess! Met. Jonah said it can take a long time to hack away all of the sin and pain. He used the metaphor of cutting down a big tree. You don’t start with the bottom of the tree. You start at the top and sides, cutting away the small limbs and pieces, eventually and slowly working your way inwards to the bigger boughs and then the trunk. So it is with hacking away at a deep passion.
This was quite a helpful podcast. I am working my way through the rest of Part 1 and look forward to Part 2 which deals with inner stillness. I know I’ll never ‘get there’ but having gotten this far, and tasting the freedom of having the handcuffs removed, has been a blessing. That freedom is quite tangible.
Glory to God for all things!