I broke my news fast on Sunday. I'd gone all of Lent without TV or radio news, glancing through the newspaper and reading newsy blogs only infrequently. About noon on Sunday, I wrestled with myself. It was Sunday, after all, and so it was okay to do something I'd given up for Lent. And it was destined to be an "historic" news day. But (don't you love how when you wrestle with yourself you can start sentences with conjunctions?), I really was finding a greater sense of peace in both my soul and my environment without cable news. All in all, the carefully chosen media outlets I'd chosen for my fast were exactly what I needed to avoid. But, on Sunday, I caved. For just few minutes. And then I walked around angry the rest of the day and, truth be told, into the next day.
On Tuesday, there was more news to fuel anger, this coming quietly in my inbox and not trumpeted by Bret Baier. Still, anger provoked and no where to vent.
And then someone sent me this. A three step program for anger management:
The beginning of freedom from anger is silence of the lips when the heart is agitated; the middle is silence of the thoughts when there is a mere disturbance of soul; and the end is the imperturbable calm under the breath of unclean winds." ~St. John Climacus
Whoa. I read that slowly a few thousand times.
I had already pre-programmed yesterday's quote before my anger management issues arose. Turned out to be good advice. Today's planned quote was all set to be another from St. Francis de Sales:
Complain as little as possible about the wrongs you suffer. Undoubtedly, a person who complains commits a sin by doing so, since self-love always feels that injuries are worse than they really are. Above all, do not complain to irascible or fault-finding persons. If you feel the need to correct an offense or restore your peace of mind by complaining to someone, do so to those who are even-tempered and really love God. Instead of calming your mind, the others will create worse difficulties, and rather than pulling out the thorn that is hurting you, they will drive it deeper into your foot. --St Francis de Sales
The end of Lent is always hard. Satan knows our weaknesses and he throws everything at his last-ditch efforts to make us sin. He doesn't really care how he gets us to sin, he just wants us to turn our back on God. Women tend to sin by talking.
After seeing how many people waste their lives (without a break: gab, gab, gab---and with all the consequences!) I can better appreciate how necessary and lovable silence is. And I can understand, Lord, why you will make us account for every idle word.
This is what that really is: grumbling, gossiping, tale-bearing, scandal-mongering, back-biting. Or even slander? Or viciousness?
When those who are not supposed to sit in judgment do so, they very easily end up as gossiping old maids.
~St. Josemarie Escriva
Anger rarely makes us better wives or mothers. Bitterness sharpens our tongues and hardens our hearts. We are called to bear wrongs patiently, called to turn away wrath. We are called to be even-tempered and really love God. We are created to live in community, too. It's not so much that our talking is bad. We have to talk, even those of us who wish we didn't. It's what we're saying; it's the idle words, the empty words, the words that tear down and destroy. Whether we're angry about national news or news in our own circles, it's in times like these that we need to encourage one another and build each other up, to let our speech be ever more gentle. We need to remind each other that our words can give someone else just that little extra nudge they need to live well for Christ. Or our words can devastate. And what we say to someone else will indeed settle deep into our own souls. So, if we're going to make someone angry these last few days of Lent, let's anger the devil: let's love one another--genuinely, truly and without condition--beginning with the people in our own homes.
God promises us all the grace we need to live in His spirit. We can defeat the devil. We can overcome anger and hurt and injustice and return an insult with a blessing. We simply need to avail ourselves to that grace.
I'm off to make a tea party for little girls (and boys who are ever-so-glad to have a certain strawberry blond back in their midst).
Have a beautiful, blessed, grace-filled day!