So often the anger we feel is directed against ourselves. Or it is directed outward, and then we react with guilt and shame, heaping blame and recrimination upon ourselves. That’s the problem with the language of sin. It makes us feel bad about ourselves. We vow to try harder to be a good person, and that works for a little while…until the next time we find ourselves lashing out in anger or turning away from others in cold withdrawal.
Let’s stop this cycle! Trying to “make” ourselves be different is about as effective as trying to hold a beach ball under water, in an analogy I’ve heard before. We can impose our will for a time, but eventually the ball will slip out of our grasp and come shooting to the surface, its force proportionate to the amount of energy we’ve expended trying to keep it down.
Coming to terms with anger requires a softer approach — a surrender rather than a trying to overcome. Not surrendering to the heat of the moment, but to what is, and to God’s ability to work in every circumstance for good. If we think of sin as missing the mark and repentance as turning our hearts and minds to God — which is the original sense of the words in Greek — we can loosen the hold self-judgment has upon us.
Can we forgive ourselves for being flawed? Can we bring ourselves to God in all our human frailty? That’s the single best thing we can do in transforming all our relationships. Let’s practice forgiveness of self and of others, trusting God’s grace to lead the way.
How might you practice forgiveness today? Is there a softer, kinder way you can respond to your own failings?