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.