Friday, 26 October 2012

Are You Angry - Part I

Frederick Buechner
“Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back -- in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.” Frederick Buechner

 I prefer “get annoyed” to anger.  I get annoyed when I click my computer mouse too fast and wind up where I don’t want to be.  I get annoyed with people who want to drive below the speed limit or who tailgate me.  I get annoyed at the numerous solicitation and political phone calls we receive.  Call it what you will, i.e. frustration, anger, irritation, etc. they are all pretty much the same and in most cases so is the cause.

The brother of Jesus nailed it when he wrote, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.”  What causes me to get annoyed, angry, frustrated or irritated boils down to the same thing – it’s all about me – my needs, my wants and my desires. News flash -  the earth is still revolving but not around me and not around you.

Dave Powlison, nationally known author, counselor and lecturer, defines anger as follows:

Anger is your God-given capacity to respond to a wrong that you think is important. It always expresses two things:

  • It identifies something in your world that matters to you.
  • It proclaims that you believe that something is wrong.
This could be something as minor as being served a cold cup of coffee at a restaurant. Or it could be something as major as your spouse running off with your best friend.

David Powlison
Powlison goes on to say that there are certainly times when a person is justified in being upset or angry.  It is only right that people be honest in their dealings with you; it is only right that your children should be respectful; and it is only right that your spouse be truthful.

But when fulfilling your desires, even for a good thing, becomes more important than anything else, that's when it changes into a "desire of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). You want it too much.

Even righteous indignation, which frankly is rarely what has caused our anger, should be handled in a manner that glorifies God.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

What Forgiveness is Not

Laura Petherbridge
A recent blog by Laura Petherbridge struck a nerve.  In part she begins with the following assertions:

(Christians) understand the importance of forgiveness; however few have been taught how. A critical reason the endless cycle of bitterness and revenge continues is due to an inaccurate or distorted view of forgiveness. A number of resources exist that explain what forgiveness is, but there is little to help a person understand what forgiveness is not. And that is often the key to success.

While I think her post is helpful, I would be inclined to take issue with the fact that Christians truly understand the importance of forgiveness.  How about Matthew 6:15 “ But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  The emotional, physical and spiritual consequences derived from an unforgiving heart can be catastrophic.

But Laura’s point is well taken.  Many of us have some misperceptions about what forgiveness is, so here is what it is not.

Forgiveness is not a feeling - If you are waiting until the feeling to forgive comes upon you, it's unlikely to occur. Forgiveness should be an act of obedience to God because we trust hino and believe he has our best interest at heart.

 Forgiveness is not pretending you weren't hurt = Christianity is not about denying a wound caused by another. Someone has betrayed your trust, damaged your soul, or caused a loss. You are justified in recognizing the hurt instigated by another's sinful or poor choices.

Forgiveness is not saying what the person did is okay.- Many people reject forgiveness because it feels as though the wrongdoer is getting away with the offense.

Forgiveness does not mean you trust the person - After a betrayal it is crucial for trust to be earned over time. Trust is not an automatic right of the offender. Forgiveness does not mean you immediately allow the person back into your life or your heart.

Forgiveness is not relieving the person of responsibility- A person shouldn't be "off the hook" from his or her responsibilities just because you choose to forgive.

In fact you are not to acknowledge that you have forgiven the person even though you have unless they have repented of their sin and come to you and asked for forgiveness.  Luke 17:3

Forgiveness may not be a onetime event. - Those who are closest to us may hurt us repeatedly, requiring us to learn how to forgive multiple times.

Many marriages are adversely affected because either the husband and wife cannot forgive one another or because of an inability to forgive someone else who hurt them prior to the marriage

Monday, 22 October 2012

Are You Feeling Loved / Respected

Sometimes whether or not we are feeling loved and/or respected has a lot to do with how well we have communicated what that looks like to our partner.  There are those of us, usually people pleasers, who do not like to ask our partner to do something for us.  There are others of us who take the position, “If they really loved me they would know how I want them to express it.”  And there are others of us who demonstrate our love /respect the way we want to receive it, without knowing whether or not our partner values such an expression.

 Many of you have probably heard of or read Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages.  According to Gary there are basically five ways that describe the way most people want to be loved. 

1.    Quality Time

2.    Acts of Service

3.    Touch

4.    Gifts

5.    Words of Affirmation

Do any of these ways of demonstrating love float your boat or put wind in your sails?  If so, have you told your partner specifically what that looks like to you?
Here is a word of caution.  Habits are hard to break and new ones are hard to form.  You may have to remind your spouse several times, also be sure to praise them when they do remember to do what you have asked.  What gets rewarded gets repeated.

 My wife has been most gracious.  She has only identified two things that I can do that would make her feel more loved.  They are incredibly simple, take almost no time and cost nothing.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m getting somewhat better at one and I am failing miserably at the other.  Is that pathetic or what? That was rhetorical!

 So for those of you who have not helped yourself by helping your spouse, please make a list of the ways your husband/wife could most demonstrate their love / respect for you.  Be specific.  It is not enough to say for example “acts of service”.  Say I would really appreciate it if you would (fill in the blank).