Seeing Red



What a change. I watched my words carefully and kept my temper under control. I was able to see what it's like to rise above the primitive nature I had known for so long and experience a life without inordinate desire, without mental ponderings of verbal revenge or a chaotic rant. Eventually, however, I lost touch with God's plan for me and here I am, trying to deal with anger again.

Now I never saw myself as a mean-spirited person; I thought of myself as a normal, level-headed person just like all my friends. But my sister would often point out to me my destructive outbursts — even when they were hard for me to recall. Where all this anger came from could be attributed to many factors: striving for academic perfection, following a misguided notion of success, lacking self-esteem due to acne and varying weight problems, possessing feelings of inferiority. I was a loner who couldn’t seem to fit into the school cliques.

Now, being an adult, I realize how my actions truly affect both myself and others. My excuses for being angry have multiplied with the sufferings of life: pregnancy loss, abuse in a relationship, weight fluctuation, and other “unfair” difficulties. But here I am in a mixed marriage where my anger can be not only destructive, but spiritually incriminating, giving the impression that my Faith is not helping me become a better person.

So how can this 30-something succeed in holiness, if my emotional preference seems wired towards seething and loathing, rather than smiles and hugs? Recently at Adoration I considered how soothing and strengthening Jesus' Presence was and how lost I am without Him on a daily basis. When I am home, I feel so far away from our Lord, surrounded by my petty preoccupations of chores and shopping lists and everything that is secondary to a solid prayer life. What I need, I realized, is to bring this peace from church into my home. I need to make a place in my heart for Christ to dwell even when I am away from the church. Isn’t that what Christmas is really about anyway — God always present with us, even in our homes?

I am coming to understand that I often block Him out and let my emotions rule. This causes my anger to override my better judgment at times when I need to turn to Him instead.

I pray then to spend more time with our Eucharistic Jesus and also carry Him home with me, remembering Him throughout the day. I know there were saints who struggled with anger, so I know I'm not alone, and maybe even you are with me in this too. If you also struggle with anger as I do, let’s pray for one another.

© Copyright 2006 Catholic Exchange

Susan C. Stratton is a freelance writer, wife and mother in Maine. She runs Baby Bunny Memorial (www.babybunny.net) for parents who have lost a baby, and is currently chairperson of the Corinna Chapter of Maine Right to Life and editor of The Maine Journal.

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