The Vocation of Every Christian!

Recently, while at my parish for Divine Liturgy, a beautiful booklet with an icon of Jesus Christ on the cover was provided to each family. This booklet contains the December 2011 pastoral letter from our Patriarch, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. The title of this letter is

“The Vibrant Parish – a place to encounter the living Christ.”

 

When I read it, several passages seemed to be highlighted and vibrated within me. I had read this letter earlier on the Internet. Yet, somehow, by seeing it in print in the form of this lovely booklet, it was as if I were reading it for the first time. It seemed fresh and I was very attracted to the message.

Here is a quote from the first paragraph.

Holiness is God’s gift, and the vocation of every Christian.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification,”

St. Paul reminds us in the letter to the Thessalonians (1 Th 4:2).

 

Holiness! I am a weak and sinful person! How can I be holy? That word hooked me. I took it and ruminated on it for several days. I researched it. The Miriam Webster Dictionary says:

the quality or state of being spiritually pure or virtuous

Synonyms: blessedness, devoutness, godliness, piety, piousness, sainthood, saintliness, saintship, sanctity.

Holiness is a “growth experience” gained and gifted by persistently pursuing knowledge, love, self-control and all the virtues of Jesus. Of  myself, I am not capable of being spiritually pure, that is, “holy” on my own. But, I see the above scripture says that this is the will of God for me, for you, our sanctification. The quote also says that it is a “gift from God” and that I, as a Christian, have a vocation; a mission/destiny, to become holy. I understand that I am to receive the “gift” and embrace it and live it, as God leads.

Holiness is something I “know” I am incapable of doing in my own flesh and I must go God for teaching and understanding; so, I enter into prayer. I understand and comprehend that sanctification is God’s will for me. I understand that I need to desire to be willing to change; it is a process, an ongoing receiving of God’s gift and grasping and holding it and becoming familiar with it and that I am actively living my days growing in knowing, loving and serving my God.

Jesus Christ is truly holy, and truly human and divine. Scripture teaches us that God is holy and we are created and are called to reflect Jesus Christ in our daily lives. We are each called to be “holy!” It is our obligation and response to His love for us.

Am I receiving God’s gift and allowing it to embrace me, cooperating with the Holy Spirit, and working into my spirit the grace and process of sanctification to become holy? My thoughts go to the Divine Liturgy where we pray three times the prayers that we “commend” ourselves to God. My spirit leaps at these prayers. Yes, I have commended myself to God and I desire all that God has for me. My spirit responds by desiring the gift of holiness; what God wants for me. I desire to know God and live with Him in a greater way than I have already known. This is my part; that is, to be active in my response to His call. The holiness is from God, Himself, and the gift, when received by me, works in my spirit a way of being and living and loving that reflects God and His Image, which is “Holy!” Now I understand that holiness is reflecting God to the world.

In Jeremiah 29:11-14a

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord…”

Our wonderful God desires that I hear His voice and follow Him. I want more. I cautiously need to guard my heart that the enemy tries to distract me from this beautiful vocation and choke the gift. As I enter into God’s plan for me, surrendering my hopes and dreams to Him, by grace alone, I begin His gift of transformation from my selfish ways to ways that are loving and revealing Jesus Christ to others by my words and actions.

I cannot hide from this beautiful gift of being chosen. If I am a Christian, then it is true:  I have been chosen, you have been chosen!

You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another. ( John 15:16 )

God’s love enfolds me as I “commend” myself to Him and thus it becomes “joy” to respond. I might be tempted to dwell only of perfection—the feeling of a task completed and well done. I might be tempted to push aside this gift because I fear that I will not have any “will” of my own, and crave such distractions as pride, lust, greed, deceit, intellectual condescension, stylish attitudes, and worldly recognition.  The “joy and peace received” is greater than any distraction of fear if I ask Jesus to help me respond. No one, including me, is off the hook from the call to holiness. His mercy is generous and touches us in our core to build and transform us to be “renewed!”

In Romans 8:28 it says:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good
to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

This passage reminds me that He brings good out of everything that happens to us and He can and does make something that seems a failure into something that is good and beneficial. His love shapes all we do well and reshapes the impacts of our blunders and botches. He is always working for our good—nothing is ever wasted. He never rejects us.

I must take my eyes off myself and keep my eyes on Jesus. Lord, I am yours! Lord, I want more!

Copyright 2012 © Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.

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Lost Connection?

Recently while trying to do some work on my laptop, I wanted to send a message to a friend. When I tried to send it, the message came back “lost connection with the internet.” I was frustrated. I tried many things and finally I found the issue and became connected.

I have had days when I had spent time in prayer with the same effect. I do not seem to connect with God. I sense that I am alone in my aloneness. I desire to be connected but it is not happening. I have a sense of powerlessness and am emotionally not at peace.

Someone recently shared a story with me that helped me regarding my connectedness with God. It goes like this:

You are taking piano lessons to learn how to play the piano proficiently. You practice and practice and practice, especially on the weak parts. You try to keep motivated to this “practicing,” with enthusiasm. Day after day, you place your bottom on that piano bench and raise your hands to the keyboard and begin reading the notes and so you begin the “practicing.” When you play the notes, you know that you have been successfully correct at hitting all the right keys, within the time allowed for each note and pause. One day, when you least expect it, you come to the piano and put your hands on the ivory and play the notes. This day it is different. Your heart has connected with the music and the sound is dramatically improved from when you played the music correctly. You have embraced the fullness of the music.

This is the same as being connected in prayer. This day that you are connected, your heart sings and your spirit soars with God’s Spirit.

Keep practicing!

Copyright © 2012 Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.

A Matter of Love

“SINCE GOD HAS FIRST LOVED US (1 JOHN 4:10),

LOVE IS NOW NO LONGER A MERE “COMMAND;”

IT IS THE RESPONSE TO THE GIFT OF LOVE WHICH GOD DRAWS NEAR TO US.” Pope Benedict XVI

 

When I first read the above words of our Pope, I felt that it was important for me to really understand what those words meant to me. I sensed “something” and wanted more. I began to do research in my heart and scriptures and in prayer to listen for that beautiful voice that gifts me with an awareness of God being with me. And so I began.

In the book, 1 John, Chapter 4, are written the words “God is Love.” God loves us so much. He had these words written in His book, the Bible. He wanted it to be made clear to us that He is Love. He is more than a feeling or warm fuzzies. He is sovereign God and the Creator of all things. He has generously revealed Himself to us by His characteristics, some of which are loving, giving, sharing, building, tenderness and faithfulness.

God revealed His characteristics of loving and giving to us in John 3:16 where He gave to us His very best – His Son, Jesus Christ, and He did not demand to receive anything from us.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God shared His creativity and His design of the world with us when He created us in His image with a likeness and ability for loving.
Genesis 1:27
 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

God in His tender love reaches to us daily. In His reaching to us, we are shown that He desires to be in a relationship with us; He desires to develop a relationship with us and for us to build our lives with Him.

John 15:5  “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing

God reveals His tenderness and faithfulness of love to us in scriptures, especially in Isaiah 49:15-16

 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the child of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.

See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;


And, Isaiah 43:4

“… you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you …”

The love of God encourages us to keep an attitude of love with each other. Emotional feelings of compatibility or physical attraction will not keep love flowing in our relationships. God’s characteristic of love flows when we work at choosing to live our commitments with each other with a focus on this following passage:

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things

In my life, I have not always lived with God. I had my times of wanting to live my own way, and after a time found that it was not satisfying. I could not find that “something” that made me sense that I was completed. Unconsciously, I was looking for “home.” St. Augustine said it so well when he said “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you.” I have heard another version of finding “home” and it goes like this: God made us with a “God hole” in our beings and we might try to fit many things into it but none will fit. Only God fits in that “God hole.” I tried to fit people, ambition, possessions, astrology, philosophies, busyness, and anything that made me feel “good.” Nothing I tried worked to give me a sense of “home.”

It came suddenly to me when I was in front of an icon in a chapel in the woods. I came to the chapel to thank God for a grace that I had been given. I was not yet fully surrendered to Him but I would pray and ask Him for help. He honored my prayer very quickly in this particular instance. In that moment of venerating the icon of Holy Theotokos, Holy Virgin Mary, holding Jesus Christ as an infant, my eyes filled with tears. It made no sense to my head. My family were with me and were confused as to why I was crying. They questioned me and said to me “We came with you to the chapel, we brought you here, and now you are crying. We were trying to make you happy.” I was choked up and full of emotion by now at their love for me. I tried to explain that I did not understand my tears but in my heart I knew something for the first time in my life. I knew I was “home.” I came to my home without my head knowledge of searching for it. I knew I would never leave it. God touched me in my spirit and I knew that I was changed forever. I explained to my family that I knew I was different from that moment of my kissing the icon. I had venerated other icons before but this time, upon approaching the icon, my heart was so full of gratitude and love for the grace received after prayer. God knew my gratefulness and we embraced in that moment of venerating the icon. I left the chapel that day with a full heart and “knowing I was home!”

In the following days, my life continued in its activities of family, friends, work, and volunteering. I found that I was trying to squeeze as much as I could into my life. What I needed to add was to “squeeze” in prayer on a daily basis. The type of prayer was not just “saying” prayers but a time with God to “hear” His voice and respond to it. It was not easy. When I shared with someone wise about my struggle, he took time to pray and listen to God for me. He came to me later with his words of wisdom. He began with, “You said that you are trying to have a daily holy time with God and you find it difficult because life is so full of activity and people. He paused. I waited for those next words. Finally, they came slowly. “Your difficulty is not a matter of time, but it is a matter of love!”

Wow! I felt that I was lying full face to the floor with his holy wisdom. I had not been loving God. I was receiving so much from Him and trying to perform to please Him. It had not occurred to me to take my prayer time to be a time of “loving God” and receiving His love for me. I was trying to “listen” to God without loving Him.

I understand now that He wants me to be a reflection of who He is. I cannot do this without Him. I need His help to even “love” Him.

Lord, thank you for your provision of holy wisdom to begin changing how I come to You and pray and listen and love You. I come to You in my poverty and desiring to shed my selfish needs and wants. I need You Lord. I love You Lord. Teach me Lord about this “matter of love” and how to begin to embrace You intimately daily. Lord, I want more!

Copyright © 2012 Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.

Shame & Guilt

I have lived with feelings of shame and guilt for most of my life. In my childhood pictures, I always looked like I could not lift my head for the photographer. People told me that I was acting shy. I did not understand what they meant by “shy” but I took it as what they understood about me. So for many years, I classified myself as a shy person. This was not true. I am not a shy person.

Guilt and shame have controlled me most of my life. I felt that I could never meet the mark that was set for me by my parents.  Looking at someone in the eye seemed impossible. The shame and guilt affected almost all of my relationships. As a teenager, my self esteem was low.

My well-meaning parents used guilt and shame as part of their discipline for me. They thought that they were doing their best in the style of their style of disciplining. I was not physically disciplined except for three instances, which were basically minor corrections. Often I deserved correction. I was left feeling like a failure and I understood that they were ashamed of me. I felt alone and sad. I never told them of my struggle because I did not know how to communicate what the effects were. I deserved the corrections. I heard words like “bad girl, again you were bad, stubborn child, willful child, difficult child and how could you disappoint us!”

The lingering affects of my early discipline carried into all my relationships as an adult.

When I was with people in my early adult years, I was always apologizing for everything, even if I was not involved. “I’m sorry!” was forever on my lips. I felt that I needed to apologize for any discomfort another person was experiencing. I was frustrated with my brokenness and wanted to be freed of it. I turned to God for help. He helped me to see that He took all my guilt and shame to the cross with His shed blood. I did not believe deep in my heart that God truly loved me enough to do that for “me.” He began to reveal scriptures to me that helped me understand and deepen my faith and trust in Him that He truly loves me and does not accuse me of wrong doing. He would point out my sins to me without condemnation.

Someone told me to read John 3:16-18 and then to read it again but change the passage using my name in place of where reference to “the world” was made.

(Original scripture)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

(Adjusted scripture)
For God so loved Irina that He gave His only begotten Son, that Irina who believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
For God did not send His Son to Irina to condemn Irina, but that Irina through Him might be saved.

Irina who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

On occasion, I began to do this with several other scriptures:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

(Original scripture)
 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

When I read this passage with the adjustment, I put my name in place of the word “Love.”

(Adjusted scripture)
Irina suffers long and is kind; Irina does not envy; Irina does not parade herself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Irina never fails.

Also Romans 8:1-2

 (Original scripture)
There is
therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

(Adjusted scripture)

There is therefore now no condemnation to Irina who is in Christ Jesus, who does not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made Irina free from the law of sin and death.

Slowly, I began to be freer from the feelings of shame and guilt. Scripture is powerful and God’s Spirit blesses each time we read it. I knew I was changing. People told me that they could see the changes in me.

My parents did not deliberately try to wound me in their style of disciplining. They did their best. As I began to be healed, after much prayer, I went to them and shared how God was revealing His personal unconditional love for me, and He was freeing me of the feelings of shame and guilt. Both of them were surprised and sad that I had suffered. We had a time of apology and forgiveness together and realized a sweeter relationship with each other.

If I have committed a sin, then I would have a natural sense of shame and guilt, as the Holy Spirit would convict me of my wrong. If I have not committed a sin or offense, and suffer with guilt and shame then I have embraced a wrong understanding of who I am with God.

I love the following scripture:

“Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame” (Ps 34:6).

Shame and guilt should not lead us to self-hatred, but to repentance. Let’s refuse false shame and remove true shame. Living with Jesus in our daily moments and bringing all our struggles to Him as they come to mind and repent for that shame and guilt are rooted in sin and ask for mercy for the shame and guilt that have resulted from our woundedness.

Father, remove my shame and guilt, especially shame and guilt that I have kept for years.

Psalm 34

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angelof the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who is the man who desires life, And loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked, And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.

Regular confession with a priest has been my best remedy for any lingering guilt and shame. Often my confessor will give me spiritual guidance regarding this issue.

Thank you Lord for the gift of confession and your priests and your healing. Lord thank you for the spiritual strength training exercises in my life.

I am so grateful to God for His unconditional love.  I am grateful to be free of these two oppressors by God’s grace and mercy. Lord, I love you. Lord, I want more!

Copyright © 2012 Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.

Talents!

Each day is a gift from God!

I have a choice each day on what to do with my gift. Just as in scriptures when the talents were distributed and examined later by God to see what was done with His gift of talent, so I have choices to make on what to do with my day, my talent.

God created me to be as He is. We are each created in His image! God is alive and creative. I am alive and creative. When I choose to live as God lives with creativity, I am reaching for the gift of the day; the talents that He gives me in this time and place. I can choose to grow in this day or waste it and not grow at all. I have been told, “If you are not growing, you are dying!”

For years, I believed a lie that was told to me when I was in school. I was told that I had no imagination or creativity and I crawled inside myself and kept hidden the talent that God has given to me. I died inside that day I heard the lie.

Only after I began to grow in my faith and trust and love that Jesus Christ has for me and for each of us, I began to learn that I do not have to stay believing any lies that were told to me when I was young or even now, today. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me discover any lies that I believed so that I could denounce them and asked Him for His truth to fill the space that the lie took. Slowly, as my memories unfolded, the lies that had been hidden deep in my broken heart and I presented them to Jesus for His care, I grew stronger and felt more alive and ready to embrace the day, and yes, even the talent that is God given. My best talent is my call to love! I am still growing!

In Psalm 42, it says to “be still and know that I am God!” In the stillness of prayer, my heart is being tenderized to becoming fully alive.

I stand still only for one thing: God! To pray, to hear Him, to listen, and to respond. If God were a scorekeeper and kept a record of everything I did wrong, I would be terrified to come near Him. God has forgiven me! God makes it so easy for me to come closer! He loves me! He loves you! It is easy to come closer to someone who loves me.

God is not asking me to be immediately perfect; He is the one who perfects me as I respond to His love. He wants me to “show up” every day and use the talent of the day to reveal to others who He is. Every sunrise is an invitation! God desires to give Himself to me, to you! You cannot out-give God. When you show up, He provides what is needed for the day. He gives. When you “show up” and use the talent for His glory, He pours out double portions to you. You cannot lose. It is a win-win situation.

Yes, Lord I will show up! I will be still in Your presence and drink in all that You pour out on me. Lord, bless me and equip me to reveal Your Love. Lord I love you. Lord, I want more!

Copyright © Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.

Teachable Spirit

 

The first time I heard those two words put together I am sure that my forehead scrunched up, revealing my lack of comprehension. After sitting with those two words in prayer, I realized that it was something that I desired but did not have, nor did I have any understanding of how to obtain a teachable spirit.

The dictionary gives the definition as being capable of being taught or to be apt and willing to learn.

This concept of being apt and willing, being capable of being taught mystified me.

I read recently that for me to experience God’s work in my life, I need to respond to His work.  Creation is God’s work and the beauty of it calls me to lift up my eyes and heart and spirit to the wonder of God’s blessings and bounty for me and for each of us. I also look to God’s word and try respond to it; it is His work for me.

These two passages came to my attention.

“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:17)

All my life I have strived to leave my childhood and become a mature responsible adult and now these passages were providing instruction regarding becoming “like a child.”

How do I begin? I did not save anything from my childhood to help me. We are a disposable society and so I have discarded those things that were from my past.

I sensed that to watch children would help me understand what is required of me if I am to obtain a teachable spirit.

So, when at a shopping mall where families come with their little ones, and at nearby parks, I had the best seats in the house, so to speak, to observe and learn. These little innocent ones who would try to keep up with the others in the family were constantly learning by watching and listening and imitating, as well as testing the waters regarding indulging their egos. Their eyes were everywhere, taking in their surroundings and looking to their parents for their boundaries. Some parents were setting the safe boundaries and others seemed distracted and the children pushed until the parent’s attention was demanded of by others.

Children are perpetual learners. This is key. Am I a perpetual learner? Or have I reached a place in my life where I believe that I have learned all that I need to know to live and get by comfortably?

Oh, I love my comfort zone. To leave it is hard work. If I am on the quest of having a teachable spirit, then I must choose to stretch myself to become “like a child.” For some people this might be easy, but for me with my love of my safe comfortableness in my adult life, the choosing was challenging. The equation that was the determining point was God’s love. I know He loves me and is always calling me to come closer. I love God! Once I grasped that to come closer to God embracing Him and His gift of love was the beginning of growing into having a teachable spirit, the door opened.

I cannot change myself. Only God can change me. I must be willing and ready for the changes. I give God permission to change me, adjust me, transform me, recreate me to be “like a child.” Lord, I am willing to become all that you want me to be!

To have God transform me to be “like a child” is to be always praying Psalm 51:10

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Lord equip me to be open to Your work in me. Lord, I pray for this work in me to be complete. I want you Lord! I want more!

Copyright © Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.

Anger Management

Recently I have been dealing with an issue: anger. I do not like it. It makes me angry.

It seems that there is so much anger expressed everywhere! It has many faces and presentations. It can be expressed as a gruff tense response to a simple question, as a “drop-dead-in-the-water” look, or as a “door-in-your-face” glare. It seems that our society has developed a sense of “entitlement” to expressing anger. Our silent body language is “loud” expressing anger. The nuances are a stiff neck, a cold shoulder, crossed arms or legs, or both, slamming doors, stomping when walking, and it goes on and on. When I am the recipient of anger, often it hurts. When I am the giver of anger, often I am not even aware of how hurtful I have been to the recipient.

Anger is dangerous to our bodies. If we hold it inside and keep it, it can cause so many side effects. There is a long list of health issues regarding anger which include heart problems, cancer, mental health issues, skin irritations, and so on. I do not want any of these health problems but yet here I am struggling with anger.

I have noticed that when I am driving I can be affected very easily. This is my weakest area for sinning. I can even be in prayer in heavy traffic and being in quite a peaceful place; then it happens. Some driver will make me feel vulnerable and unsafe.

Someone irresponsibly might cut me off rudely, or tailgate me by riding my bumper,or a driver is obviously oblivious to anyone else on the road and busy with other tasks while driving, e.g., texting, eating or drinking, or a passionate conversation with a passenger or whoever they are talking with on their cell phone, or they are weaving carelessly in and out in traffic and are careless with other peoples lives, or when another driver has a larger vehicle than mine and the driver seems to be saying by his driving style that I am in his way and I better get out of his path.

Whew! By what I have written above you can see that I am still working through this issue.

When I have taken this problem to my spiritual director, I have been given guidance; good healthy and wholesome spiritual advice! Anger can be good or bad. Jesus expressed anger when he threw out the moneychangers from the temple. I have been taught that this is “just anger.” He was angry about the lack of love and respect for His Father.  He wanted justice.

Anger is a feeling. But the wisdom I have been given is that feelings are fickle and can come and go. In trying to live out this wisdom, I am learning that I can make a decision to not express anger, not keep it, but to take it and make something good out of it; not burying it but working towards transforming it.

The root emotion of anger is fear. No matter where the anger started from, the first reaction is fear. Now, if I am choosing to make something good that is rooted in fear, I need to check out scriptures about fear. The best one that comes to my mind is 1 John 4:17-18

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Fear is cast out by Love. Love is stronger.

As a Christian, I am committed to becoming who God is calling me to be! I have choices all the time whether to be a “lover of mankind” as Christ does, or to satisfy my ego and be a “lover of me!” Sometimes it is not obvious. Sometimes it is obvious. I am grateful for those times that are obvious.

So when I am in traffic and someone’s driving sends me to the edge of sinning, I am learning to apply the truth of the above scripture.  I have to do an “attitude check.” I am to be loving. I am to turn my cheek. I still have a weak area where I want the offender to stop what they are doing and begin acting in a more responsible way. I need to call to God to help me! I cannot do this on my own.

Someone might challenge me and say ‘Why bother!” My response is “My faith is that God knows and sees every thing about me, and my desire is to love Him. My turning to Him is my best thought.” So I pray “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner.”

Our thought life is where emotions begin. If I work towards making my attitudes and thought life pleasing to God, then the anger will not be able to overpower me and consume me. The scripture that comes to mind is 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

God cares about me and desires to take care of my “stuff” today. He is always inviting me and you to give Him all that draws us away from Him. The battle is in my mind and when negative and self defeating thoughts come, I need to recognize them. I ask God for the grace to “be sensitive and recognize” the garbage of wrong thinking. I take the thought and give it to Him. The scripture that stands out to me is  1 Peter 5:7

 ….casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

If anger has been in a prominent place in my mind, then I understand it to be something that I care about. So if I am obedient to the scripture passage, then I will “cast” my anger (care) upon Jesus. I am learning that I need to practice this. I am not yet perfect. But thankfully I am in process.

I have been taught that it is right to pray for those who hurt me. So I begin to pray for the one who offended me.

“Lord, you are sovereign over everything in my life. You allowed this person to cause me discomfort because you have a purpose for everything. You want me to pray for this person. You have my attention. So Lord I ask you to forgive me my sin against this person and bless this person with your best graces and mercy.

Lord Jesus I give you my anger and frustrations and fears. I cannot make anything good from them. They are yours. In their place, fill me with your Holy Spirit and teach me how to be a “lover of mankind.” Lord, I want you. Lord, I want more.”

Copyright © 2012 Irina Demkiw, all rights reserved.