Daily Devotions

Don’t Get Scorched  

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Like a city breached, without walls, is one who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)

 

I’ve been reading an article earlier this week that caught my eye. “Why ‘Rage’ is the Word of the Year.” Morgan Jerkins gives any number of reasons, nationally, why “rage” was so prominent in 2018. I do not need to give you a bunch of examples, I am sure you can come up with enough of your own.

 

Just the week before, I was listening to a group of church members who had gathered after a meeting. They were talking about how disturbing the past year has been, with all the anger expressed in our politics, our social situations, and between people. Rage used to be unusual, but what happens when rage becomes normal? What do we humans have to do, in a rage culture, to express even more exasperation?

 

What I appreciated about Jerkins’ article is her concern for what this rage does to the victim. She used the examples such as the way Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was treated, to the lack of response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. She continues with tear-gassed humans at the U.S.-Mexican border, to voter suppression in Georgia. I will stop, because I already said I wouldn’t give examples. I share these because rage can be an appropriate response. The problem comes when rage becomes a constant.

 

Jerkins said there are many books that affirm women’s rage, for example, she said they often proclaim, “Rage is good. Rage is the impetus for movements. Movements transform the world.” But she continues, “But I often wonder, what happens when the flame does not stop flickering? What happens when it burns and burns until whatever remains is scorched?” What happens is we loose our empathy, and even our joy for living. Rage cannot be the go-to response, or it destroy us.

 

Today, turn down the rage. When rage is an acceptable response, reframe it as righteous indignation. Righteous indignation requires us to continue to care for the one(s) that cause us such distress. Rage implies we are out of control, while righteous indignation means having meditated on the situation from a faith prospective, and with a faith response. Pray that you and those in power can move from rage to righteous indignation. Pray that everyone can begin to think through their strong emotions and find a productive and healthy way of finding reconciliation with accountability. Accountability is the way to reconciliation. But first reconcile your rage, so you are not scorched!

 

Impatience: My Go-To Response

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I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace(Ephesians 4:1-3)

When I was getting ready to be born, I missed the patience line. I’ve noticed I am not the only one. The month of December has most people on edge. We are trying to work extra hours before the end of the year. The added demands of extra evening parties and other responsibilities is exhausting. Then, add the shopping demands and you have the recipe for irritation and impatience.

The way to address and overcome impatience during the Holiday Season requires just a bit of focus. Anna Goldfarb, in her New York Times article “How to Be a More Patient Person” provides assistance. Goldfarb says, first, we need to “Identify your trigger(s).” Until we know what sets us off, we remain out of control. 

The second key to overcoming impatience is to “Interrupt the cycle and evaluate the risk.” Are we getting all worked up about something that is a legitimate issue, or wasting energy and emotion unnecessarily? Taking a deep breath is often all that is necessary to reflect on the merit of one’s impatience. The vast majority of the time, that is all it takes to get off the emotional roller coaster, and regain perspective.

Finally, Goldfarb says, “Train, don’t try.” An act of sheer will is often not enough to break impatience’s hold. Impatience, like most other emotions, can become a habit. We need to retrain ourselves in order to cultivate patience. Like most other habits, it will take a certain amount of effort to make lasting change. Yet, with a little practice and retraining, a calmer, more patient you can be a reality.

Today, reflect on your “triggers.” Then, the next time you feel that trigger go off, Interpret and evaluate the risk. Once these actions feel comfortable, the process of retraining will be easier. Over time, the go-to response will be less impatient. As this happens, not only will you feel more relaxed and happy, those around you will feel more comfortable around you. Give it a try, and see how much more enjoyable your Christmas will be this year!

 

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