This Lent may I suggest we pay some attention to what we do when we are angry, frightened, and soul weary; and determine if our default feelings lead to a response that is unhelpful, sometimes even destructive. What then might our different response be? And why?
First, anger fear and weariness are valid human emotions; there is nothing bad about them, without them we are surely emotionally challenged. That said, they are emotions that often are sharp and full, they contain a great deal of electricity and power, and they are often used by others to harm or manipulate us.
I never do my best thinking or choosing when I am determining and acting under the immediate reaction of anger fear or weariness. But truth be told I love the adrenaline rush I get when initially experiencing these feelings, they may be challenging and even dangerous, but I feel energized. Usually, complexity and nuance leave the building, dehumanization and violence come to the fore; and while I rarely act on these, my soul and spirit is scarred and changed, Gospel values and the mind of Christ are eroded, the good is diminished its abiding place in my heart.
And yet, moved by these emotions when experienced and considered, some of my best work has been done; in fact, if I have throughout my life been able to stay the course and for the long haul be involved in building the good; most always it is sustained with these emotions at the start. Lent will, if I let it, teach me how to feel them but not then let them rule me, rather I rule them given God’s mercy and call to transform this world by grace and goodness, not by force or fear, violence or destruction.
Practically, if I choose it, Lent gentles me, challenges my sarcasm and cynicism, leaves me abiding in hope and committed to the journey home to God’s fullness of life. Yeah, more alive rather than simply agitated and adrenalized. It’s called conversion one of Lent’s great gifts. If any of this rings true to you, let’s be working at it together with God’s grace teaching and guiding us.