This week, Pastor Donnell continued our journey through the life of Abram and Sarai as described in the book of Genesis. Along the way, Pastor Donnell described his personal grief with the recent decision by the President to cease immigration and travel from several predominantly Arab countries. At the end of the sermon, Pastor Donnell presented a couple of practical tips. One had been put together by Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit Catholic priest. We will be using Fr. Martin’s suggested meditation as the basis for this week’s practical tip. Fr. Martin’s compete web-post can be found at http://bit.ly/2jFndbS
How do I deal with intense, sometimes overwhelming feelings of frustration and anger? What do I do with them? Where is God in all this?
Many of us have experienced strong feelings during the election campaign and subsequent statements and actions by politicians over the past several weeks. These feelings can include anger, frustration, fear, even hatred. We might strongly agree with certain statements or actions, or we might be very angry with those making the statements and taking the actions. Regardless, these feelings provide us with a gateway to approach God in a very personal and intimate way.
We encourage you to accept your feelings as they are. Your feelings are simply your feelings. They are not necessarily good or bad, though what they encourage us to do might be more or less in line with God’s purposes. Right now, however, these feelings just are.
When you have time to pray, present any recent feelings to God. Simply recall the feeling, whether it be anger, frustration, disdain, inability to understand others, hatred, fear, etc., and invite God to join with you with this feeling. Include the people affected by your feelings as you consider these feelings in God’s presence. You and God are both looking at the people as you are experiencing your feeling. Does their presence bring you comfort or anxiety? Share this with God. Consider how God might feel about the situation. You might even ask God if he feels the same way about them or the situation. Sit quietly for a few minutes, continuing to invite God into your thoughts and feelings as they arise.
When this process seems to have run its course, you might repeat this prayer. This time, you might consider a couple of Jesus’ sayings. Both are very challenging: “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “In the world you’ll have trouble, but be courageous—I’ve overcome the world!”. Of course we fall short. The point here is not to beat ourselves up. The point is to consider our feelings in the light of God’s provision and care for both us and others. To love someone else as we love ourselves requires, at minimum, seeing ourselves in their situation, in their life. To be courageous is to overcome our fear. As you consider once again the feelings that you have towards others, consider in particular any anger or fear that is involved. Share these with God again. What is God’s disposition towards the other person or persons? What is God’s disposition towards us if we are afraid? Ponder these questions for awhile. If you are upset with the way others are being treated, share your feelings with God. Be open to any sense of something that God might be asking you to do in response.
If you keep a journal, jot down any significant thoughts, feelings or inspirations that came during this time of prayer.
Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.